Chairman, Neerja modi school, Jaipur
A commerce post grad of Sydenham College, Mumbai, Saurabh Modi is founder-chairman of the Neerja Modi School (NMS, estb.2001), which has five campuses in Rajasthan (Jaipur, Jodhpur, Chittorgarh and Udaipur) with an aggregate enrolment of 7,000 students mentored by 475 teachers. He is also founder of Nischay, a community service initiative which provides education and vocational training to over 1,000 underprivileged girl children.
NMS Covid-19 response. While people were still awaking to the impact of this global pandemic, we made the strategic decision to transition to remote learning, well before the national lockdown. Our student-teacher community cooperated smoothly and rapidly established normalcy through virtual learning. The processes of technological upgradation and extensive teacher training were undertaken on a war footing. The rapidity of our transition to online learning is in sharp contrast with the general perception that change occurs at glacial speed in academia.
Major challenges confronting Indian K-12 education in the Covid era. The biggest challenge ahead is reopening schools physically, prior to development of a Coronavirus vaccine. The social, emotional, and mental well-being of all stakeholders in K-12 education has been severely dented. Online learning platforms have their limitations in building a sense of camaraderie, imperative for all schools. From a wider perspective, I firmly believe that one of the biggest challenges in K-12 education in India is national reluctance to adopt a growth mindset.
Fees waiver/deferment circulars to private school managements. We are a democratic welfare state in which governments are understandably tempted to take populist decisions. But I wish the government had taken into account the interests of all stakeholders. Much like other economic entities, schools also need to strengthen and boost their resources during times of crisis.
Top 3 proposals for reforming K-12 education in India. First, we need to switch to curriculums that increase employability of students. This can be achieved by bridging the gaps between school and higher education, and industry. Second, massive emphasis on training teachers to deliver 21st century skills to students. This will be a game-changer for K-12 education in India. Third, schools need to switch to pedagogies that develop the multiple intelligences of students.
Future plans. I plan to infuse greater diversity and vibrancy into the student and teacher communities of NMS. This requires disseminating the NMS vision of learning in India and abroad via e-learning platforms.