The NEP 2020 is Great News for the Early Childhood Education Sector: Dr Pritam Kumar Agrawal

Dr Pritam Kumar Agrawal Founder & CEO, Hello Kids Preschools & Riverstone Schools, spoke about using technology during the pandemic, ensuring emotional and mental wellbeing of students and the impact of the NEP

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Today, in the post-pandemic world, educational institutions are working to quickly adapt to the use of technology in the new normal and are coming up with innovative ways to keep students engaged.

For preschool and early childhood education sector, the challenges brought on by the pandemic have been manifold. Many preschools however have successfully been able to face these challenges, while ensuring their young students enjoyed engaging and stimulating learning experiences during the pandemic.

We spoke to Dr Pritam Kumar Agrawal, Founder & CEO, Hello Kids Chain of Preschools & Riverstone Schools, about using technology to navigate the pandemic, working to ensure the emotional and mental wellbeing of students, the impact of the NEP on early childhood education, and more.

Edited excerpts:

How have Hello Kids leveraged technology to navigate the challenges of the pandemic?

The technology was already in place with us such as ERPs and training modules – we only needed a platform for the online engagement – we were following the best practices across the globe and the with the consultation from our mentors, we took faster decisions to use online platforms for smooth online classes.

Within the first 2 weeks of the lockdown, we were the first preschool brand to launch the online platform with a curriculum in place, where priority was engagement, social interactions and how we can keep children physically fit with our activities.

How has your institution worked to ensure the emotional and mental well-being of your students and staff during the COVID crises?

LIVE sessions were the key, where we had small groups and we allowed the kids to speak and share online. This was also the key to keeping them engaged and they enjoyed, interacted, learned and they attended classes regularly. 

How have you remedied the challenge of low admission rates during the pandemic?

Yes, admissions were almost 30% lesser than the previous academic year. The initial 2-3 months were difficult but with the technology in place, teachers training and continuous marketing even during the lockdown, it did help to overcome these challenges. We were one of the most active brands/education institutes with online our presence where we had live sessions for kids, parents, teachers and even the preschool owners on daily basis.

These sessions were for kids, (live story, fitness, art and craft, blocks) for parents (parenting sessions) and for teachers, we had training sessions from personality, education and even the curriculum. For owners, we had very regular digital marketing training. Even as a brand we claim to have the highest engagement on Facebook and Instagram.

How do you think NEP 2020 will impact the early education sector?

The NEP 2020 is great news for early education sector because now it is a compulsory education from Nursery to UKG – a 30,000 crore industry which is only around 20% organised – can be 100% organised in next 5 years. We can see more than 100,000 crore industry by 2025.

What do you think are some of the advantages and drawbacks in the NEP 2020?

Firstly, pertaining to education as a state issue in India, we need to have certain common standards across India for early childhood in terms of rules and regulations. We also need more clarity required for training/eligibility of pre-primary teachers.

The foundation level as per NEP is Nursery 3 years to 2nd Grade 8 years, there is still confusion among educators on if they can run up to 2nd grade in preschools.

What do you think the outlook for pre-schools would be like in the coming year?

Physical preschools will exist and this is the only solution because kids are too young for online, kids need to play, they need to move, they need socializing, practical learning and they need toys.

Training of teachers will also continue online and PTMs can be adapted online. Also, a lot of sessions during weekends and holidays will be online to engage students even during breaks.

 

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