By Naman Jain
In India, school education has largely been dominated by a few private players. These groups had the advantage of being early starters and were able to use their branding to reach in peri- and semi-urban areas, often being the first such line of establishments in that area. The name spoke for them and people looked up to them for results. In many cities, these brands or their representative organisations were the only decent places to study.
Today, our lives are evolving, and fast. In the last decade, the Indian education space has changed drastically. The knowledge of best practices is no longer confined to a specific geography or a specific organisation. Earlier, knowledge production was limited to big cities and these large groups were the only means through which it could trickle down to other places. But now, the internet has eliminated these barriers. For example, till a couple of decades ago, only the big names could send their students to language camps and exchanges abroad. But today the canvas of opportunities has become wider.
A school is not just a building, it’s an institution. In a school chain, sometimes there can be friction in decision-making when there are multiple leaders. Independent schools solve this problem, at least theoretically, by ensuring that one person, generally the founder, is the captain of the ship. There is little confusion about where things are headed. A weak school administration does not bode well for any stakeholder, be it parents or students or teachers.
Finally, the most crucial factor that distinguishes independent schools from the conventional big brands is the element of novelty and innovation. One of the key reasons these schools came into being is to service the demands of parents who were not satisfied by other schools. Thus, the key goal of independent schools is to offer parents a new and novel system of progressive education. The focus is not just on mindless learning or a blinding sense of achievement, but on meaningful engagement and connection. The purpose is to ensure that students feel aligned with what they are studying and are able to take it outside the classroom as well as bring ideas from the outside world into the classroom. This kind of education is a departure from the old method of rote learning.
In 2022 and beyond, we cannot continue to follow old systems, but have to embrace ideas and systems that empower our students.
The author is an education policy expert, and director (Development) at SLPS, Ghaziabad.