ASMA Education Leadership Conclave – School Leadership Conclave: ‘How Innovation and Technology are Transforming India’s School Education’

ASMA’s Education Leadership Conclave - School Education Conclave

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ASMA’s Education Leadership ConclaveSchool Education Conclave online webinar was held on Friday, 9th October 2020, under the theme ‘How Innovation and Technology are Transforming India’s School Education’.

The event comprised of three panel discussions and two industry presentations, where industry leaders shared valuable insights on innovation and technology in the school education sector, the New Education Policy (NEP), bridging the technology and socio-economic in digital learning, and how schools are tackling challenges brought on by COVID-19 with an aim to ensure the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of their staff, students and parents during the pandemic.

The session was opened with a Keynote Address by Shri UN Khaware, Senior consultant, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS); Ex Additional Commissioner, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS).

Khaware began by reiterating the importance and relevance of technology, especially in the context of COVID-19. Khaware said, “Digital technology was a tool which was considered optional, has now become quite mandatory. Now we have no choice but to use technology and various online methodologies to reach out to students”.

Khaware spoke about the NEP and technology, how to move forward in the current COVID-19 era, the technological innovation which has now become part of the new normal and also how technology has been used in his organisations.

The event also saw industry presentations by Ritesh Chawla, Regional Head, UniApply on ‘Use of Technology in School Admission Landscape’ and Swapnil Jain, CEO, ORAI Robotics on ‘AI Innovation in Transforming School Outreach’.

Panel 1 delved into the NEP: Implementation & Future Challenges. The panel comprised of Dr Niyati Chitkara, Vice President-Schools, Chitkara Educational Trust, Anjali Razdan, Director Academics, Solan Public School, Hyderabad, Sudhir Kukreja, Co-Founder, Credence International Schools, Dr  Raina Jain, Director & Head, Witty International Group of Schools, Deepa Bhushan, Director – Schools, C P Goenka Group Schools and was moderated by Dr Swati Lodha, President – Swash Education & Research Foundation, 360° Life Coach and Bestselling Author.

Anjali Razdan, Director Academics, Solan Public School, Hyderabad opined, “COVID-19 has come at the right time. It has taught us many lessons on how to be humane and resilient and it has taught us how to use and disseminate technology”. She also said that the NEP of today should have been introduced decades ago.

Dr Niyati Chitkara, Vice President-Schools, Chitkara Educational Trust said, “The NEP is a very illuminating document, and it is very doable and futuristic”. She also pointed out that mobile is a great tool for teaching, learning and assessment.

Speaking about the NEP, Deepa Bhushan, Director – Schools, C P Goenka Group Schools said, “The NEP is a guiding document and we have to make it work. We have accepted the fact that as a country, our context and levels of education are different. The NEP does not speak of equality, it speaks of equity”.  She emphasised that access, affordability, equality, quality and accountability should be applied in every area and programmes and structures should be created keeping these points in mind.

Sudhir Kukreja, Co-Founder, Credence International Schools, pointed out, “The NEP has delivered what educationists have been wanting in our education system for a long time”. He, however, underlined that it is important to see how much of the NEP each state will accept and implement.

Kukreja added, “The NEP gives us an opportunity to bring in industry experts into schools. What we have been doing at the MBA and college level has to be brought in earlier”. He also explained that the NEP will allow for a multi-discipline approach, where learning will be more experiential and hands-on.

Adding her thoughts on the NEP, Dr Raina Jain, Director & Head, Witty International Group of Schools said, “One sector that was always neglected in school education, is the pre-primary or early childhood section, so I am glad this has finally been included in the education sector under the umbrella os school education.”

The second panel of the day discussed ‘Bridging the Technology and Socio-economic Gap in the Age of Digital Learning’. The panel comprised, Kiranpal Singh Chawla, Chairman, Career Point World School, Bilaspur, Anita Sharma, Principal, C P Goenka International School, Mumbai, Ashish Agarwal, Principal, Billabong High International School, Bhopal. The panel was moderated by Dr Chandrakanta Pathak, Principal & CEO, HVB Global Academy.

Moderator began the session by sharing statics which highlighted the current technology and socio-economic divide.

Ashish Agarwal, Principal, Billabong High International School, Bhopal opened the discussion, saying “We need to change the approach and definition of literacy as digital literacy versus digital illiteracy”. Agarwal pointed out, “Research has proven that children who start behind, stay behind, and therefore, educational institutions must invest more in the early stages of learning”.

Kiranpal Singh Chawla, Chairman, Career Point World School, Bilaspur, said that educational institutions have a larger role to play in bridging the education gap.

He also suggested that community tech centres should be created particularly in rural areas to close the technology gap.

Chawla said, “In the neo-normal situation, we have to adopt the hybrid models of education, where we need to have the technological aspects at one side and also train our teachers to be equipped with technology to deliver it to the student”.

Anita Sharma, Principal, C P Goenka International School, Mumbai explained, “As educationists, we need to contribute to the socio-economic aspects of education which is very diverse. We need to give equal opportunity to children to come on board and we also need more inclusive education where private education institutions can be involved”.

The third panel of the day was moderated by Dr Seema Negi, Principal, Sanjeevani World School, Mumbai, and discussed ‘Mental & Social Wellbeing of Students, Teachers & Parents during COVID19 Crisis’.

The panel comprised Dr Hemalatha S Murthy, Principal Director, White Petals School, Bangalore, Dr Eshwari Prabhakar, Principal, Delhi Public School, Anandapuram, Visakhapatnam, Sanjeeva Kumar Sinha, Principal, The Indian Public School, Dehradun, Manju Gupta, Principal, Kothari International School, Noida, Dr Kavita Bajpai, Director & Co-Founder, The International School of Thrissur.

Dr Kavita Bajpai, Director & Co-Founder, The International School of Thrissur emphasised that before we can approach how to safeguard the mental and emotional wellbeing of all stakeholders, we – the schools, educators, parents and children must first understand the ‘what ‘ and ‘why’ of the situation.

She said, “We are missing the sense of structure of the stimulating school environment.” She also said that we must adopt fostering and less criticism and that peer learning practices between educators and parents should be encouraged.

Manju Gupta, Principal, Kothari International School, Noida, emphasised that school administrators need to be open-minded and patient. She also added, “Communication is key; it calms everyone down, this along with social bonding helps to manage stress”.

Adding to the discussion, Dr Eshwari Prabhakar, Principal, Delhi Public School, Anandapuram, Visakhapatnam pointed out that at present, the emotional connect is missing and is replaced by digital learning. She explained, “Pedagogical methods have changed but the emotional connect should not be lost, and this needs to be designed for each class”.

Dr Prabhakar emphasised, “A happy teacher is a happy student, and a happy student is a happy school”.

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