EducationWorld has introduced a new series, the ‘Eduleader Focus’ featuring interviews with principals of reputed educational institutions who are popular among their students and staff. In this edition of ‘Eduleader Focus‘, Sandeep Goenka, promoter-director of the C.P. Goenka Group of education institutions, discusses the key needs of a post pandemic education sector, his philosophy for ushering holistic growth amongst children and his other interests.
Here are the excerpts:
What challenges do schools face reopening on a regular basis after a gap of two years?
There are many aspects that need to be dealt with but the key ones would be the safety of all students and staff members. The focus is also on ensuring their mental and emotional well-being, addressing the learning loss, getting all stakeholders to accept the new challenges and bringing in financial and operational sustainability to deal with any further disruptions.
What challenges did online teaching pose and how did your school deal with them?
Equipping our schools to shift from offline to provide education in the online space almost overnight, was the biggest challenge we faced. Initially, there was resistance to the transition to online learning. We worked to create both an attitude and the aptitude for online learning, by finding a balance between parents’ expectations, students’ understanding and teachers’ capability. Our first priority was to set up a robust communication system and equip our school leaders and teams with structured guidelines to chart these untested scenarios. We reworked the structure of the classroom, teaching tools, field trips, guest lectures, assessments, libraries, lab experiments etc. to suit online classrooms.
We created platforms for peer learning sessions and collaboration across all our schools to equip our teachers who are our frontline workers. While experienced teachers shared their knowledge of content and pedagogy, the younger teachers shared tech tools. We thus worked hard to create a meaningful online schooling experience for the children in our schools.
We also created a 360-degree programme to support parents of pre-schoolers by delivering learning packs with teaching-learning aids to meet the physical, cognitive and language developments of the children. Maintaining a personal connection with the teacher is an important aspect of education for pre-schoolers. Thus we implemented individual online interaction and support sessions for children and parents along with online classes. Our interactive tech learning aids, virtual bookshelves and wellness programme added to the efficacy of online schooling with the parents of our pre-schoolers positively acknowledging all the efforts taken.
During the pandemic, students were impacted the most by the absence of any physical interaction. Elaborate how did your school ensure the mental well-being of the students at such a time?
The school introduced a ‘Wellness’ programme which dealt with age-appropriate aspects of wellness. Our teachers listened to students’ concerns and demonstrated understanding as well as empathy to embed a safe and inclusive learning environment. We also joined hands with Luke Coutinho (Luke Coutinho Holistic Healing Systems Private Limited) to educate our students with holistic health practices.
Teachers too underwent tremendous stress during the pandemic balancing hybrid learning sessions and completion of syllabus etc. As a leader, how did you motivate your teachers?
Our teachers are the face of the school and an integral part of our system. It was important to support them and appreciate their efforts throughout the journey even as we accepted a few realities – we were all on the learning curve, uncertainty and change could be managed positively and we may not always have the right answers. We continue with our efforts towards teacher communication, counselling and professional development in the face-to-face mode to ensure our teachers are equipped and motivated at all times.
What is the estimated learning loss amongst children and how can it be bridged?
Though at this point of time it is difficult to estimate the quantum of learning loss, our initial focus will be on an academic review as well as a review of the social, mental, emotional and physical well-being of our students. In the upcoming academic year, we will introduce a programme called ‘Plugging the Learning Gaps’ which will focus on the children’s foundational skills.
How satisfied are you with the growth and development of your school?
The school team and I are very happy that our efforts have been getting validation both internally as well as externally. The external validation lets the world know about the good work that our schools are doing. The team at
C P Goenka International Schools and Swami Vivekanand International School (SVIS) have worked hard to meet the challenges and have succeeded. The feedback that we have received from our very important stakeholders – our students and our parents has proved that we are doing the job well.
Your leadership style is…
I believe in ‘Participative leadership’. I offer guidance to my team and believe in taking inputs from them too. This makes my team members know they are valued, keeps them motivated and helps foster commitment to the goals of the organisation.
Your philosophy of education…
Students today have an unquenchable thirst to seek knowledge that cannot be satiated by traditional methods of imparting education like rote learning and passive listening. With the paradigm shift in the field of education, children have to be provided with opportunities that facilitate and exhibit their hidden potential. There is a need to edify young learners keeping in view the synchronous growth of their body, mind and soul.
The one thing you want to change in India’s education system is…
Making quality education accessible to the masses with the focus being on equipping children for careers as well as leading healthy and happy lives.
To unwind and destress you would…
I love to travel to my farmhouse and spend some time with family.
If not an educator, you would be…
I would probably be managing the national and international level manufacturing, marketing and development of my family-owned businesses of gum resin, paper and tea.
Also Read: CP Goenka International School, JuhuEduleader Focus