While seeing through our school project (IDPS) in Proddatur town in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, we familiarized ourselves with the scenario of school education in the region.
In this brief article I have attempted to present my observations and reflections vis-à-vis the trends of school education along with the possibilities and challenges that lie before the schools. In addition to that, the article also provides a glimpse into the approach that we took while developing the concept of the new school.
It is for anyone to notice that education system in the region has been in a state of flux for at least half a decade, it has been facing challenges that are like the ones being faced by other medium-sized towns in India. The school education in the district, in terms of numbers and coverage of population, is dominated by the state board schools. There is a significant number of private schools that run state curriculum. These private state schools can safely be regarded as an improvement upon the government schools in terms of infrastructure, commitment and involvement of teachers, curricular supplements for English language acquisition, etc. Some of these schools have adopted national board syllabuses and English as a medium of instruction hoping to fill the gaps that are evident in the conventional state schools, yet it is strongly felt that the scope and impact of these schools arelimited when widely accepted standards of contemporary school education are taken into account.
There is a slowly evolving second tier of educational institutions which include schools affiliated to national boards. The school promoters have instituted schools that were intended to depart significantly from their state counterparts, and they appear to have succeeded to a certain degree but there remain issues that need to be addressed.
Many schools that have made a place in public consciousness are franchise schools. The groups that manage these schools have to their credit successful runs in other cities of the state, some of these are concept schools and have tried to replicate their models in various branches they run. The striking thing is that the “model” or “concept” is not uniformly implemented, rather there are many variants of the concept. It can be argued that this is the case with almost all franchise schools, however given the relatively limited size of the city, the rate of this variation becomes especially noticeable.
Claim to distinction of certain newer schools is the modernity of infrastructure, use of technology and use of curricular supplements. These are in addition to the general expectations that the parents have from their child’s school viz. qualified teachers, optimum student teacher ratio, attention on English language skill development etc
These schools certainly make an attempt and they do initiate changes with conviction, nevertheless the situation on the ground does not change much. This is based on the observation that the skill set of the students of these schools is not remarkably wider than that of the students of the conventional schools.
The reason for this is that the distinguishing features that represent these schools are mostly symbolic. For instance, a classroom is purported to be a “smart classroom” by the virtue of being air conditioned and occasional use of a projector. There are other major issues, a virtual absence of sports infrastructure in these schools is most noticeable among them. Then there is the practice of introducing curriculum solutions and academic programs without judging their compatibility with the curriculum being implemented. The compromises being made in the area of teacher recruitment is also prevalent, however it is not unique to this region.
Every school has its own distinct set of problems, but the ones described above are some of the common issues that the schools are facing. More than the lack of resources, it is the lack of vision and initiative that has contributed to a slow pace of arrival of the 21st century school education concepts in the region. The population is forced to be content with what is available to them and schools are content with their schools running in full strength and as long as they can demand a 10 percent increment in the school fee year after year. The schools see little incentive in changing and an institution that forces its counterparts to up their game is the need of the region. We responded to the need and the reception we are getting is encouraging.
<strong">The quest for real change
Our observations coupled with those of the school promoters convinced us of the fact that an alternative is needed in the shape of an institution that resets the standards of schooling and alters the way education is perceived in the region. The concept of excellence and claim of superiority of the envisioned school is not based on the strategic addition of features and competitive marketing, it is dependent on fundamentally changing the experience that the child gets in the school.
The school leadership drew from its experience in higher education and assessed the educational needs based on their evaluation of the students of engineering in the Chaitanya Bharti Institute of Technology.
It was strongly felt that the students must be exposed to the 21st century skill development regimens in their schooling years and should be trained in the fundamentals of STEM subjects intensively.The infrastructure was designed to accommodate cutting edge courses and faculty was recruited from across the country to maintain envisioned standards.
The other area which is specially attended to is the sports infrastructure. The school has fields and tracks and has a wide inventory of indoor sports. The emphasis on personality and soft skill development is also significant.
The school is conceptualized as a day cum boarding school to cater to the entire district and we were confident that it is will contribute significantly to the educational scene of the state and will become a pioneer of value-based 21st century education in Kadapa.
Founder & Consultant - School Serv
Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.