50 Leaders who can revive Indian education – Deepak Madhok

EducationWorld June 2020 | Magazine

Deepak MadhokDeepak Madhok
Chairman, Sunbeam Group of Education Institutions

An alumnus of Banaras Hindu and Allahabad universities and former civic administrator of the Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission, Deepak Madhok is chairman of the Varanasi-based Sunbeam Group of Educational Institutions (SGEI) comprising seven owned schools, 17 associate schools, two women’s colleges, an autism centre and a free school offering vocational education. These institutions have an aggregate enrollment of 25,000 students in Uttar Pradesh mentored by 1,600 teachers.

How has the Sunbeam Group responded to the Covid-19 challenge?

Over the past few years, Sunbeam Schools had invested heavily in tech resources and training teachers, administrative staff and students in technology usage. Therefore when we had to suddenly switch to online learning because of the Covid-19 pandemic, our teachers and students were ready. During the past two months, we have specially trained our teachers to design personalised learning modules for virtual classrooms and also tend to students’ socio-emotional well-being. Most important, we have involved and counseled parents about remote
online learning. 

What are the major challenges confronting Indian K-12 education in the Covid era?

Some of the major challenges are poor Internet connectivity; lack of digital devices; inadequately trained teachers and keeping students engaged while learning remotely. However, changing parental mindsets that education is not just about completing the syllabus and exams, will be a greater challenge in the Covid era.

Several state governments have issued fees waiver/deferment circulars to private school managements. What’s your comment?

Schools are non-profit organisations wholly dependent on student fees to meet expenditure. Even when schools are closed, accrued costs of salary, taxes, building maintenance, asset EMIs, taxes and statutory bills have to be paid. Government has not announced any relief for private schools. Despite this in SGEI schools we have not forced any  student to pay fees and have given parents experiencing financial distress deferred fee payment and installment options.

What are your Top 3 proposals for reforming K-12 education in India?

• Incorporate blended and flip learning in all schools post-Covid. This will give more time for students to develop creative and critical thinking, communication and higher order thinking skills in their classrooms
• Revamp pedagogies to enable real understanding of concepts rather than rote learning
• Provide professional, vocational and skill-based training to students to enable them to chart out career paths
after school.

What are your future plans for the Sunbeam Group?

Sunbeam Schools will continue to promote education excellence, students’ well-being and ensure every child has a positive, happy and rewarding experience facilitated by caring and innovative teachers.

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