Founder, Parikrma Humanity Foundation
Formerly the most highly-remunerated woman CEO of India, Shukla Bose is the promoter- director of the Bangalore-based Parikrma Humanity Foundation (PHF, estb.2003) which has established four free-of-charge K-12 schools and one junior college with an aggregate enrolment of 1,500 slum children mentored by 183 teachers.
Parikrma schools’ Covid-19 response.
PHF not only provides high-quality education to children from slum habitations, we also look after their nutrition, health and family welfare. For us, it’s important to keep our schools running even during holidays so our children don’t miss their meals — breakfast, lunch and evening protein drink with snacks — and remain safe. Things changed when the lockdown was imposed. We began providing rations to our children’s families and so far, we have distributed 7.5 lakh meals to our 1,500 families.
To continue the academic education of our children, we send lessons to them through WhatsApp and their parents bring their homework to school when they come to collect their weekly rations. We have also started our Reach V schools initiative for which our teachers have been trained to run online classes from 8.15 a.m to 12.30 p.m through Google Classroom. But as none of our pupils have computers and Internet connectivity, we are making two children share a Smartphone with a magnifying screen to attend online classes every day in one child’s home. Volunteer parents have also been trained on how to manage children.
State governments’ fees waiver/deferment circulars to private school managements.
Parikrma schools provide totally free-of-charge education so these government circulars don’t impact us at all. However, some private schools are running their schools as business organisations. This is a good time for them to realign their thinking. A fair percentage of what these managements earn through fees must be invested back into the schools for proper salaries and training of their teachers, better equipped libraries, extra-curricular activities and better technology.
3 proposals for reviving K-12 education.
- Government must make blended learning normative in all schools in the post-Covid era
- It should also carefully review the relevance of our draconian examination systems and innovate better and more creative ways to assess children’s learning
- We should migrate from industrial-era curriculums to nature-based syllabuses and curriculums.
We are seriously looking at restructuring class sizes and period timings. The one lesson Covid-19 has taught us is that children enjoy change and experimentation and flow with it. We have witnessed extraordinary creativity among our children during these challenging days. They have made their own projectors for Smartphones that they are borrowing from their parents to attend the Parikrma Reach V schools initiative. Secondly, we will continue to invest in our teachers because we now know that in emergency situations, they respond with great alacrity and creativity if they really care for their students.