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Kunskapsskolan debut

Mark Parkinson, the high-profile director of The Shri Ram School, Delhi (TSRS,  estb. 1988), routinely ranked among the country’s top three day schools (No. 1 in  2011, No. 2 in 2010) in the annual EducationWorld India School Rankings, has called it a day at TSRS after a five-year innings. And since September, he has taken fresh guard as director of the Kunskap-sskolan school under construction in Gurgaon in Delhi NCR.

Kunskapsskolan. The first Kunskap-sskolan school was established in 2000 in Tyreso, Sweden by Peje Emilsson, a politician, entrepreneur and consultant in strategic communications. Since then, 34 Kunskapsskolan schools have been established in Sweden, three in Britain and one in New York city. Kunskap-sskolan is the owner and developer of the KED (Kunskapsskolan Education) programme — a coherent and proven personalised education programme for children in the age group two-and-a-half to 18. In Kunskapsskolan schools, teachers, the timetable and learning spaces are adapted to the customised needs of students by way of personal coaching and individualised goals.

In April 2012, the chain announced its entry into India under the aegis of the Sweden-based Kunskapsskolan Edu-ventures Pvt. Ltd, with Kunal Bhadoo, son-in-law of Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, as its co-promoter chief executive. The first school is rapidly assuming shape on a 6.5 acre campus in Gurgaon’s Sector 50, and will admit its first batch of preschool to class VI children in April 2013. Tuition fees range from Rs.25,000-45,000 per year.

History. A law graduate of  Wolverhampton University, UK, Parkinson recently completed 13 years of work and residency in India. Starting his career as a marketing executive with a private British bank in 1985, Parkinson  “accidentally strayed” into South Asia when he accepted an offer to teach English to priests of the Swaminarayan sect in Ahmedabad. After completing this assignment in 2000, he taught business English at IIM-A and MICA for three years before being appointed headmaster of the Oxford International School, Dhaka (2005-07). In 2007, he was inducted into TSRS as director.

Direct talk. “The KED model is a breakaway from the one-size-fits-all approach that most schools have practiced for too long. It’s child-centric, reformist, international in processes and methodologies while simultaneously adaptable to national board curriculums. It allows students to work at their own pace and focus on subjects of their choice, with the teacher being a sage on stage and coach on the sidelines. I found the system very appealing and one that could catalyse a paradigm change in K-12 education,” says Parkinson.

Future plans. The Kunskapsskolan school in Gurgaon, will be the first of an Indian chain. “We’ll stick to the original model and cap the classroom size at 20 students. A team from Sweden will be here in March to train our teachers in KED pedagogies. After our processes and architecture are established, we plan to enter tier-II cities charging lower tuition fees,” says Parkinson.


Autar Nehru (Delhi)

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