Aruna Raghuram (Ahmedabad)
A committed proponent of play in early childhood education, Bengaluru-based parenting coach, leadership mentor, educator and edupreneur Preethi Vickram is founder-director of the new-age Cambridge (UK)-affiliated Tapas (derived from the Hindi word tapasya meaning devotion, estb.2020). The school which began operations last June (2021) offers project-based STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) education to 22 class I-III children mentored by seven teachers.
Newspeg. In March, Tapas marked its first anniversary with varshik utsav (annual fest) featuring board games, shadow puppet theatre, release of children’s books, skits, and play acting by students.
History. A humanities and business management alum of Bangalore University with a diploma in women’s entrepreneurship awarded by IIM-Bangalore, since 2004 Vickram has been a master franchisee for Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh of the Mumbai-based Podar Education Network that owns and manages over 600 preschools countrywide. Currently, she supervises 62 Podar ECCE centres in the three southern states.
In 2017, Vickram promoted the Leadership Initiative for Educators (LIFE), which conducts workshops on educational leadership and development of organisational cultures. Since then, she has organised numerous conferences and workshops for school leaders and teachers. In recognition of this initiative, Vickram was conferred the ‘Times Power Women 2019’ award.
Vickram is critical of memory-based learning pedagogies and the summative and formative exam systems followed by a majority of Indian schools. Tapas is the outcome of this dissatisfaction.
Direct talk. “Conventional education focuses on memorisation rather than on understanding concepts and skills building. In Tapas, our focus is on how to learn rather than what to learn. All learning is contextual to a project — be it language, maths or science. Moreover, our ‘buddy time’ initiative and peer presentations ensure that children develop social skills from early age,” says Vickram.
Future plans. Vickram has drawn up a detailed blueprint for the future. “Currently, we are an early childhood class I-III school. Our future plan is to add two grades every year in our main campus under construction in suburban Bengaluru. Moreover, under the LIFE banner we will soon offer two courses on developmental play and early childhood education in collaboration with universities in the US and Singapore,” says Vickram.