The New Face of Schooling

None of what I am saying here is new. All ideas here- big or small, have been spoken about, thought given to and introduced and implemented at various levels in learning contexts. But it is time to arrange the ideas, all on platter, and make connections among the various components and sew the fabric for a new face of schooling.

It’s just that this crisis is too good an opportunity for us to miss or let go. Education needed a huge transformation. And even if the best of resources, time and political would have backed it, it would have cost us at least 10-15 years. But this pandemic has revolutionised and brought education to the right brink from where if we did not look at reimagining education systems globally, and locally it will be a humungous waste of this crisis lent opportunity.

It’s very simple. The digital divide, which was a serious rising concern even before the pandemic, has only made the great cracks and fissures in the education systems inescapably visible to all. And if technology has created this chasm, technology alone can bridge it, and help us accelerate to reach where we want to be, taking along the last child, in the last classroom of the last village on this globe.

This is the time to dream and create to make every school a Utopia. The New Face of Schooling as I wish to carve out will take every child along. Students should be able to decide what they want to learn, how they learn and where they learn. Learning will thus be self-paced, deeply driven by student interest and also be choice- based. Students of all learning abilities, styles and quests will be able to find their mix. Teachers will be the best in talent, there will be generalists and specialists, constantly reskilling and upskilling, Governments will make education top in their priority list, with linkages to employability, workforce skills’ compatibility and the economic progress of the nations obvious. Managements will recalibrate to offer quality education, and achieving scale using technology will and should eventually make the offering of quality education highly affordable and accessible to all children irrespective of their station in life. And schools may not be the only agency offering education – homes and other set ups will emerge and schools may be only one of the agencies. I see a whole lot of courses being offered, a multi-age learning setting, distance learning courses for talent that wants to go beyond, personalised and adaptive learning taking over to customise growth and progress. And skills and concepts development vying equally to capture student capability. Parents will then not be at the mercy of the strangleholds of schools. The boundaries of physical schools will not be the deterrent it is today, with access for all and affordable to all.

I, for one am very very excited, I can at least visualise Utopia. Visibility is improving.

Asha Narayanan

Ms. Asha Narayanan

Head of Curriculum and Quality Standardisation Lodha Institute of Teacher Education, Palava; Dean, The Shriram Universal School, Palava & Principal, Lodha World School, Thane