Smile of my students drives me to work every day

Smile of my students drives me to work every day

Mr. Harish Sanduja, Director — Schools, Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Educational Institutions, GZB

How long have you been associated with the Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Schools? How has been the experience so far?

I have been associated with Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Schools for almost two years now, and the experience has been good and enriching. Year 2020, particularly, was a period of great learning for me as I saw the whole paradigm shift in education from classrooms to online.

The Jaipuria Group is a big brand. How difficult it is to monitor and manage the academic standards of various franchisee schools remotely?

It is true that with the expansion of the Jaipuria Group comes the challenge of maintaining the high academic standard that we are known for. Monitoring and maintaining this standard surely take continual supervision and repeated evaluation of the performance of the partner schools. I’m pleased to say that we have a dedicated team of thoroughbred professionals who work tirelessly to ensure this. I must add that a lot of help comes from the IT support which is enabled by the Jaipuria audit mechanism.

Curriculum designing, development and implementation are a never-ending task. What are your thoughts on this?

The dynamic nature of education in the 21st century makes curriculum designing, development and implementation a very important task in pedagogy. Every year, new researches, discoveries, and advances in technology make it necessary to improve curricula for schools so that students remain up to speed with the latest developments. I think the educators should stress more on the process-oriented curricula rather than the product-oriented one, which focusses solely on grades. Good grades are important without a doubt, but what we need is an open-ended approach that aims at enriching the learning experience for students. That way, students not just get good grades, but also develop a deeper understanding of subjects across multiple disciplines.

As you already know, National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has been approved and is expected to be implemented shortly. Your comments?

It is my view that NEP 2020, when fully implemented, will bring in far-reaching changes in our education system. Firstly, the starting age of children going to formal schools will get reduced to 3 years, as opposed to 6 years previously. Secondly, the structure of school education will shift to the 5+3+3+4 formula. I think it is great to have a regular assessment of a child’s academic performance by National Standardized Testing after every few years, which this formula will bring into practice. Thirdly, NEP 2020 will give greater freedom, choice and flexibility to students to choose different streams, which is a great improvement over the rigid structure we’ve had till now. The idea of a regulatory body as mulled in NEP is also a welcome move.

Harish Sanduja has been the Director of Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Schools since 2019. In the past, he has held the position of Principal Cum Director of SAI International School and Director of SAI International Residential School. He has been exposed to various Boards like CBSE, ISC and IB. He has been a teacher trainer and has conducted various workshops for CBSE. In his Career of around 25 years, he has been instrumental in establishing various Leadership courses and platforms for developing student potential and creativity. He has been exposed to British and Australian system of education, apart from the educational domain in Indian Diaspora. He has been a part UKIERI (UK India Education Research Initiative) and has also completed Value based Education Leadership Course from IIM Calcutta.

Our educators are under huge stress since the pandemic, from coping with internet connectivity issues and erratic power supply to more structural issues like curriculum designing and teaching techniques. How are your teachers overcoming such challenges? Did you arrange any special training for them?

Yes, in the beginning the teachers did find it difficult to switch from classroom teaching to online teaching, but we trained them at Saamarthya Teachers Training Academy of Research (STTAR) Ghaziabad, which is a great initiative for teacher training by Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group. By and by, the teachers became competent in using the technology. We also brought in a lot of changes through IT. We did a thorough research on technologies and studied how they could be effectively leveraged to provide education in the time of the pandemic. That was a game changer for us. Today, we have some of the best tech tools and processes for student assessment. We have extensive data for grade splits, section-wise performance, and topic-wise performance to fully understand a student’s academic progress. What’s more, a lot of this data is being shared with the students and parents to ensure transparency.

How does online teaching fare compared to classroom teaching? Do you think online teaching would continue post pandemic and replace/substitute classroom teaching? How will all these new techniques of teaching impact textbooks and other reference books?

Online teaching has its benefits but it is not as effective as classroom teaching because students lack the sense of ownership in a virtual setup. The teachers have to take a leap of faith in certain matters of student assessment as it is not possible to detect the breach of trust on the part of students. Moreover, I think physical interaction between students and teachers is very important. Among students themselves, the classroom environment creates a strong social bonding. Looking ahead, I do think that online teaching will continue whenever there are unexpected school breaks or closures. Very likely, the paper textbooks will also be replaced by soft books in the future.

How different are students of today compared to those, say, 10 years ago in terms of knowledge, aspirations and values?

Students of today are definitely better informed and more technologically savvy than those of a decade ago. But I think values are an important concern with the students today, because the screen-time has taken them away from their families and also from experiential learning. I hope that technology will provide a solution and also enable stronger values in the long run.

Jaipuria Group of Schools has students from all sections of society. What kind of issues do you face from today’s generation of parents?

My experience with parents has actually been very pleasant. About 98% of parents usually do not have any issues with the school. Of the 2% that approach us with their questions, doubts or suggestions only help us become better. My attitude to parents is to always welcome their feedback so that we can do better appraisal of our own performance as a school.

What drives you to work every day? How do you keep yourself motivated?

The short answer to your question is: the smile of the children. Yes, that’s what drives me to work every day. I get excited at the prospect of explaining something new to students, to open a new window of knowledge to them. The spark of life and curiosity for knowledge I see in them keeps me motivated.