Ashish Gulati — Vice chairman, Blue Bells Group of Schools, Gurgaon
An alum of the top-ranked Management Development Institute, Gurgaon, Ashish Gulati is vice chairman, Blue Bells Group of Schools comprising five schools and preschools in Gurgaon with an aggregate enrolment of 3,700 students and 350 faculty.
NEP 2020 overview. Arriving after a 34-year hiatus, the NEP 2020 is welcome and heralds overdue reforms in Indian education. Reiteration of the resolve to double government spending on public education to 6 percent of GDP is encouraging although this promise has been made before and not fulfilled. I also welcome the 360-degree assessment system that takes into consideration the holistic development of children. The change to the 5+3+3+4 schooling system, in line with international education standards, together with the proposed reforms in higher education, will develop India into a education hub. I am hopeful that implementation of NEP 2020 will be smooth and successful.
How satisfied are you with the switch of K-12 schools to online/blended learning during the current Covid-19 crisis? Is this a beneficial development for school education?
The switchover to the online mode was the only option available to schools to ensure learning continuity for children. Fortunately, teachers and students adapted very quickly. Blended learning is here to stay as it allows greater flexibility and interaction between students, parents, and teachers. However, it will never entirely replace bricks-and-mortar learning, which offers a more wholesome learning experience.
The past few months have witnessed increasing government interference in fees and online education delivery. How much damage has this caused to private schools?
Inevitably in times of crisis, vested interests try and create conflict. Erosion of trust between schools and parents is the worst damage they have caused. Our constant endeavour is to assure parents that we are equally invested in the well-being of their children.
What are the major initiatives Blue Bells Schools have recently taken to upgrade teaching-learning?
Blue Bells Group has devised a two-pronged approach to improve teaching-learning in our schools. Started eight years ago, our in-house curriculum development and teacher training centre enables us to continuously upgrade curricular content and pedagogies. The second initiative focuses on organisation-wide behavioural interventions to develop a compassionate culture conducive to child-centric learning and emotional well-being of our students.
What are your Top 3 proposals for re-inventing India’s K-12 education system?
It is critical that we build policies and systems that enable schools to focus on teaching-learning, rather than on administration. Also establishing a separate regulatory and accreditation body for private schools — one that supports and improves rather than merely regulates their activities — is imperative. However, school reforms will be effective only when similar reforms are introduced in the higher education system.