Managing Director, Ryan International group of Institutions
Promoted by Mme. Grace Pinto and her husband Dr. Augustine in 1976, the Mumbai-based Ryan International Group of Institutions (RIGI) has since blossomed into a network of 135 K-12 schools across 18 states and 40 cities in India with an aggregate enrolment of 275,000 students and 15,000 teachers on its muster rolls.
The Covid-19 crisis has majorly disrupted the education system. How has RIGI responded to this challenge?
Despite initial teething problems, our countrywide network of schools was quick to adapt and embrace online learning for reaching out to all our students and parents. Now, we have a specialised tech team in every school to make this transition smooth and effective. Above all, our teachers worked extra hard to upgrade their ICT skills and effectively engage students. In this entire process, many of our parents opted to become co-learners to enhance the e-learning experiences of their children.
What are the major challenges confronting K-12 education in the new Covid-19 era?
The challenge of evolving a blended learning model that will integrate conventional classroom engagement with e-learning support systems; teacher training in emerging technologies usage; bridging wide learning gaps between students, and addressing mental strain that teachers and students will inevitably suffer before they become accustomed to blended learning pedagogies.
Several state governments have issued fees waiver/deferment circulars to private school managements. What’s your comment?
It’s true that some state governments have issued circulars offering payment options to parents, but no fee waiver has been announced. This is because governments are well aware that private schools are dependent on school fees to reimburse teachers and staff. We hope state governments will continue to support private schools post-Covid and parents will understand the relevance and urgency of paying school fees. Parents need to know that the lockdown has affected many people including our teachers, support staff, drivers and other peripheral workers who have families to look after and bills to pay.
What are your Top 3 proposals for reviving and reforming K-12 education in India?
• Central and state governments should sharply increase outlays for public education
• There should be greater emphasis on vocational and skills training to equip Indian youth with industry preparedness
• Upgrade teacher training programmes in new technologies usage to enhance e-learning.
What are your future plans for RIGI?
To tide over the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, RIGI has focused on innovative leverage of technology, active collaboration and capacity building, and ensuring that children remain at the centre of immersive online learning experiences. RIGI plans to respond to the pandemic challenge by availing the opportunity to use technology to personalize the education of every child. We are open to adapting to the new normal and making necessary changes in education delivery to remain relevant and equip our children for the uncertain future ahead.