New Delhi, 6 February 2012: Besides providing insights into higher education in the new age, the One Globe 2012 knowledge conference, organized by Salwan Media, in partnership with US India Business Council, UK India Business Council, International Institute of Education, FICCI, TiE, India Knowledge at Wharton, IHT, YES BANK and PricewaterhouseCoopers, also focused on reforming K-12 school education and helping students seeking higher education abroad through international educational partnerships, career and resume building, demystifying visa procedures, and cracking the admission tests at campuses. Harjiv Singh, founder CEO, Salwan Media said, “There are several new career options and courses available today in India as well as abroad. Parents need to step up to their responsibility to help their children explore these and actualize their true potential.” Besides delegates, the conference also saw participation of several students and parents.
The session on ‘emerging trends in K-12’ was moderated by Arun Kapur, Director of Vasant Valley School, and included among panelists Rosemary Sagar, chairman of The Sagar School, Dr. D.R. Saini, Principal of Delhi Public School RK Puram, Kaye Annette Jacob, Associate Director and Head of International Schools Division at The Heritage Schools, and Goldie Malhotra, Director, Guru Harkishen Public School.
Emphasizing on the need for project based approach to education in schools, Kaye Annette Jacob, Associate Director of The Heritage Schools said, “The new generation of parents do not want their children to undergo what they went through. Few schools have already started introducing experiential learning models where students work on real-life projects so that education is less theoretical and more practical.” Citing an example where young students of Class VI were asked to dismantle and re-assemble a bicycle to write a manual, she said that promoting such innovative educational models on a large scale requires collective risk-taking by parents, teachers and family members alike.
Panelists at the One Globe conference agreed that school education needs to be broad-based and holistic. Rosemary Sagar, Chairman of The Sagar School noted that while accumulation of knowledge was a key earlier, but in the new world, where knowledge is already abundant, schools now need to shift their focus on teaching students how to access and apply it. Dr. D.R. Saini of Delhi Public School felt that physical growth is as important as mental and intellectual development. Importance must be given to imparting social skills that help students express themselves and learn from others.” He said that Indian students are geniuses in mathematics and sciences, but parents must participate and also learn and teach themselves to help students compete in a global world. However, Goldie Malhotra of Guru Harkishen Public School stressed on the need for teacher training, and added, “While classroom, curriculum, syllabi and methodology have all changed today, my biggest fear now is whether the teachers themselves are being trained accordingly to be able to impart the vast and in-depth knowledge available today.” Addressing the students attending the One Globe 2012 conference, she said, “Today’s times call for multi-tasking when you as school students should do as much as you can to stay competitive. Don’t just keep other activities as hobbies but make them your passion because sometimes passions are more important that profession.
The interactive panel saw an interesting round of questions from the audience including parents and school students. Salil Pande, who studied at IIT Kanpur and University of Chicago, asked if we have the ecosystem that helps students take sufficient amount of early risk to choose preferred career paths, and if the enormity of content and emphasis on research can impede development of problem-solving and critical skills. Rosemary Sagar responded that in order to help students take risks, we need to inculcate in students the spirit of self-confidence and self-esteem in a positive way. Earlier systems were based on the glass half empty paradigm which highlighted where students were lacking. Stressing the can-do attitude is more of an art in education than a science, felt Rosemary Sagar.
Neena Bhasin, a Supreme Court advocate, who was a delegate at the One Globe 2012 knowledge conference noted that for school students, examination still is a synonym for stress, fear and tension. Advocating for the need of having open book examination and research papers at the school level itself, Bhasin said that these should be conducted as knowledge tests and not memory tests. As a parent, she applauded abolishment of Class X board exams and demanded for getting rid of the Class XII Board exams too.
Answering a question from the audience on whether teaching in India is a neglected and under-paid profession, Arun Kapur, Director of Vasant Valley School cited the example of Finland as the “rockstar of education” where teachers are not the highest-paid professionals but are still the brightest.
Goldie Malhotra of Guru Harkishen Public School said that the adoption of CCE as a scheme of continuous and comprehensive evaluation was a big and welcome step. However, she cautioned that any reforms in the educational system need to be planned and implemented carefully as they impact not just the schools in Tier-I cities but even in far-flung villages. She felt that while career counseling was picking up in larger cities, there still remains an unaddressed need to guide school students in remote areas on the new careers and courses available today. Professor C. Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor of OP Jindal Global University observed that overlapping regulations pose a challenge to internationalization of education in India.