In this age of hybrid education and technological advancement, schools are perhaps one of the most important partners in bringing about radical improvements in learning outcomes.
When we talk about transforming education in India, there are often discussions on content and technology but much less focus is paid on the single most important factor – schools. The millions of schools across the country are where the future of India is being built, and a huge number of them come under the Affordable Private School (APS) category, where middle- and low-income parents admit their children, often spending a large part of their income. These schools are thus the ideal partners as they cater to a huge number of students and also need vital and immediate assistance at various stages of improving learning outcomes.
However, it would be an error to see these schools as a monolith. There are a minority of institutions in urban metros which have better facilities, skilled teachers, and are often more open to change due to their management being in a position to access the relevant information. And then we have schools in Tier II or III towns or in rural areas. Many of these schools may have been founded with the vision of helping children in the neighbourhood succeed in life. However, today, they are in a tough spot, without access to cutting edge resources or R&D and well-trained teachers. Rote learning, in many cases, continues to be the primary mode of measuring learning outcomes in these schools. It does not help that many of the owners of such institutions may have had bad experiences with integrating technology in education and are now far more cautious when it comes to making radical changes.
Amid this complex picture came the pandemic, upending ideas about education and forcing schools and managements to try and overcome their concerns - about technology, about whether parents can accept skill development over rote learning, and about new ways of training teachers. The pandemic institutionalised hybrid education. What would have taken decades has become a pressing need today, now.
The LEAD advantage
LEAD School’s efforts, especially over the past year, have been in the direction of meeting this need, especially considering that bridging the gaps in such institutions has historically been a key area of focus. From R&D and generating content to the concept of integrated learning and identifying partners, LEAD’s methodology is uniquely suited for schools and students in Tier II and III towns. For instance, even the process of identifying partners is based on mapping schools to the around 19,000 postal pin codes in the country so that the benefits of our model can reach a wide variety of geographies and contexts.
Identifying a partner institution is only the first stage. The tough part lies in convincing school owners about why the LEAD approach is both different and necessary. After experiencing poor platforms or claims that are not accompanied by proper follow-up, there is often a trust deficit, and so building trust is perhaps the most important part of the relationship. LEAD does this by convincing these stakeholders that it is not content that is being sold here but a process that is being shared – an integrated process that involves training the teacher, regular delivery of developed content, technology, and platforms for each stakeholder, as well as a continuous feedback cycle and innovation, which involves these stakeholders throughout the learning process.
Bridging the teaching gap
A key element of the LEAD approach is building confidence in the management and teachers that content can be delivered in tune with the integrated approach. Teacher engagement is thus one of the foundational aspects of LEAD’s partnership with institutions. Managements are often sceptical of their teachers’ ability to deliver the LEAD curriculum. Hence, a key part of our approach is working with teachers who need assistance and enabling demonstrable change in their methods in as short a span as two hours. However, this is only the beginning.
Teacher engagement is a continuing process, and is complicated by the fact that teachers, a majority of whom are women, also shoulder responsibilities at home, in addition to working full time. They are thus not able to spend time on upgrading their skills. It is here that LEAD brings the latest in teaching methodology through detailed lesson plans and complementary technology.
Another key component of the deep relationship LEAD School builds with all the stakeholders is English learning. LEAD’s English Language and General Awareness (ELGA) programme is trailblazing due to its focus on skills and its eschewing of the traditional grade-based approach for a level-based approach with multi-age classrooms. LEAD also arranges interviews with students and parents from different locations to analyse their knowledge of the English language, and where they should actually be. The report that LEAD presents to the parents after this exercise helps them realise the right indicators to identify the potential of their child.
It is important to note that LEAD School deploys and stands by the very same methodology in its own schools. This gives owners confidence in the approach as the various elements of integrated learning do not come from some conceptual space but from being implemented in institutions similar to theirs.
LEAD’s approach to transforming education in India is thus based on a deep and enduring relationship with schools, and by bringing change by being a part of it. Trust, conviction, acceptance, and transformation – this four-fold process perhaps best defines the path to change that LEAD believes in.
Want to give your child excellent education and make them ready for the future? Ensure they study in a LEAD powered school today.