Pearson Education Services aspires to seamlessly combine its international standards in education with India’s traditional methodologies, and bring to us teaching techniques that can propel education into a higher plane. Uma Shankar Vishvanath, President, Pearson Education Services Pvt Ltd, speaks to Pragya Gupta about the ways by which Pearson schools are re-inventing pedagogy
What initiatives have been taken by your company to make optimal usage of technology? Please share the idea behind launching Pearson Schools in India?
Pearson schools have been launched in India with the aim of enabling majority of students to access quality education at an affordable price. One of the major concerns we found was when we enter into Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities there is a dearth of branded schools offering quality education. There are many missionary institutions traditionally which have been there in lots of these towns, but there is no single large player in these markets. So we felt that we wanted to provide branded education at affordable price by leveraging the vast resources of Pearson. Looking at technology, as the price of technology keeps coming down, the usage will increase in education. We are focussed on ensuring that classroom learning will become better by use of technology.
What are the solutions offered at these schools?
We have considered a 360 degree d e ve l o p m e n t programme in these schools. The common challenges that any school faces today is that of good quality teaching staff. Perhaps teaching is not con-sidered a noble profession anymore. There is a need for making teaching an attractive profession. There are many regulations and restrictions, therefore many schools are not in position to pay high salaries to the teachers. As a school manager I have to ensure that good quality of learning is happening in my classroom. Today it is a trend that number of higher education institutes are not growing at a pace that is in tandem with the way the demand for these are growing and the world is becoming very competitive. As new courses arrive in the education sphere, parents have to condition their child to be better prepared on these upcoming topics and at the same time I have to reduce my dependency on good quality teachers that I am unable to avail toady. So, that is where technology and ICT play a key role.With use of technology, good content, animation, graphics, I am able to supply much better quality of education to the child. ICT and technology play a very key role. As the cost of educational technology acceptance keeps coming down, the popularity of such solutions goes up.
Tell us about your tie-ups and partnership plans for Pearson Schools?
We are currently working with our own companies, including Edurite. All our classrooms are enabled using Digiclass solutions. We also have Edxcel working with us, so our teacher training programme is currently certified by Edexcel. We also have a competency test on the use of IT that is accepted worldwide.
Is technology playing a role in re-inventing pedagogy?
Children today are getting more accustomed to the visual media. There was a time when regular TV was not considered educational, however, with wide variety of educational content becoming available today on the TV and Internet, students are getting hooked to the screen. The methodology of teaching has to take into consideration the fact that content is now not limited to the confines of a teacher’s mind, ICT is leading to universalisation of content. A blended approach is best way forward, moderation and best-suited combination should be used. It depends on the teacher and how she uses it. The government itself is promoting tablets and promoting personalised learning. This will pave the way for teacher-independent learning and dependence on good teachers will come down.