Ace Creative Learning, the Bangalore-based integrated learning player whose Deeksha network of schools offers learning and training for various engineering and medical competitive exams, aims to bring education back to school by shifting the focus of education from coaching centres to schools. Today, Deeksha has more than 15,500 students in 37 campuses across the country. Sridhar G, managing director, Ace Creative Learning, in an interaction with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, says that, for the longest time, the Indian education system has failed to mature, and that India is yet to overcome the challenges that were identified a decade ago. Excerpts:
What are the key challenges for today’s Indian education system, especially at the class XI-XII level?
For the longest time, the Indian education system has failed to mature. India is yet to overcome the challenges that were identified a decade ago. Improving access and quality at all levels of education, and increasing funding, especially with regard to higher education, are still some of the biggest stumbling blocks.
Tuitions have become big business. How does the Deeksha model differ?
Students today are hard-pressed for time and are stressed owing to increased competition. In order to ensure top performance in board as well as numerous entrance examinations, students enrol for tutorial classes after college hours. The rest of the time is spent commuting between home, college and coaching centres. This not only leaves them with less time to pursue extracurricular interests but also cuts into hours of self-study. We have developed an “integrated methodology” approach with the aim of bringing education back to schools. We enable schools to take ownership for the complete education of the child, be it for the board exams or competitive exams. In order to do so, we have developed the necessary content, pedagogies and training processes to enable teachers to simultaneously train students for both board and competitive exams.
Given that there are pressures for performing well both in class XII and in competitive exams, is it reasonable to expect schools and pre-university colleges to prepare students for both?
Different students have different aspirations and different capabilities, and each child deserves the right to be able to pursue his dream. This needs an ecosystem which is able to understand the child’s motivation, asses his capability and design a programme that will bring the best possible outcome for the child. Who is better placed than the school itself to deliver on this? Our current education system needs to be tweaked to serve the best interest of the child.
The key, obviously, is teachers. Are the teachers you train any different?
It is our belief that we are here to enable ordinary teachers to be superstars to their students. This transformation is possible through our CDCT training programme—content, delivery, connect and technology. We have worked with fresh graduates for a period of six months and enabled them to be effective teachers in the classrooms. Some of these youngsters have consistently obtained a much higher student rating than our “established” teachers. The process is not rocket science. It just needs a person willing to learn and willing to take feedback.
Is this model scalable?
Scalability only comes with the adoption of technology. We are in the process of rolling out our Teacher Tabs, which is a very handy tool for enabling teachers. The programme is delivered through a combination of structured content, detailed catalogued videos and online classes. The effectiveness is monitored by a mentor who will observe and give feedback. The product is slated for release to our internal teachers shortly.
What technology tools do you use for making teaching a better experience?
The AceSIP provides up-to-date student information, the AceCLASS brings audio-visual aids into the classroom, and the DeekshaTAB delivers personalised learning opportunities to all our students through notes, video lectures and practice tests.
Will the plan to set up more IITs help create a larger pool of quality engineers?
There is no doubt that there is a great need for many more IITs. By IITs I mean great institutions of learning equipped with the right infrastructure and the right faculty. Unfortunately, many of our current IITs do not measure up to this definition. Hence, I firmly believe that unless the quality of the current institutions isn’t bettered, the establishment of new ones will not have any value.