Anirudh Gupta — CEO, DCM Group of Schools
An engineering and business management alum of Punjabi University, Patiala, Anirudh Gupta is CEO of the DCM Group of Schools (estb.1947) comprising six K-12 schools across Punjab with an aggregate enrolment of 20,000 students instructed by 1,200 faculty.
What is your overview of the NEP 2020 released last month?
NEP 2020 is an excellent document aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and five pillars of access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability. Suggested reforms such as setting up a gender inclusion fund, strong emphasis on foundational literacy and numeracy, elimination of rigid boundaries between academic streams, and universalisation of education from preschool to secondary level are laudable. If implemented in its true vision and spirit, I believe the policy has the potential to bring India on a par with developed OECD countries.
How satisfied are you with the switch of K-12 schools to online/blended learning during the current Covid-19 crisis?
Is this beneficial for school education? The switch to online/blended learning is the best and only option to continue teaching-learning with minimum academic disruption during this crisis. This forced transition has opened up new vistas for learning, forcing hitherto IT-shy educators to step out of their comfort zones. However, in India which is steeped in poverty and inequality, the transition to online learning will benefit school education only when every child has Internet connectivity and access to digital devices.
The past few months have witnessed increasing government interference in fees and online education delivery. How much damage has this caused to private schools?
When the national Covid-19 lockdown was imposed in end-March, the annual/board exams had commenced, admission process for the new academic year had begun, and teachers were being recruited. In short, the school system was thrown into disarray. Despite this, a large number of private school managements, anxious to maintain learning continuity, quickly adopted digital technologies and started online classes. What followed were mindless government diktats. We are in the fifth month now, and fee collection is less than 10 percent in most private schools. Unnecessary government interference has caused severe disruption in private schools.
What major initiatives have the DCM Group of Schools taken to upgrade teaching-learning?
Since the Covid outbreak in March, we singularly focused on equipping our teachers and students with the skills needed to transition to online learning. To this end, our schools arranged numerous training sessions for teachers and students to acquaint them with virtual platforms such as Zoom, MS Teams, Google Classroom etc.
What are your Top 3 proposals for re-inventing India’s K-12 education system?
- Redesign academic curriculums to enable learners to translate learning into practice to improve their employability. Add a strong vocational education element to all curriculums.
- Promote industry participation from the stage of curriculum development to institutional management.
- Revamp teacher education to enable them to meet the demands of industry.