Emphasising on the enquiry and development of critical thinking, social skills through collaborations, Ratna D Reddy , Founder Director, CHIREC informs that the school has been abreast with the latest trends in education and incorporated the strategies and methodologies
What was the rationale behind venturing into the pre-school segment?
It was always my desire to open a pre- school since the time I did my Masters in Early Childhood Education from University of Iowa. During my assistantship in teach ing in the US, I was struck with the stark difference between teaching in the US and India. There was hands on experiential learning, holistic way of learning and student centric education in the US. This was the gap that I saw in Indian education system and when I returned to India, I decided to put m y learning to practice and set up a pre-school. Before start of the academic year, I set up a summer camp which offered total personality development of children, targeting the physical, social and creative development. It was an instant hit and the novel concept started by me 27 years ago was the start of the New Age schooling prevalent in Hyderabad presently.
How does an established pre-school presence help in the growth of the K-12 segment?
CHIREC has been established on The Whole Child Philosophy by Feeney, Stephanie, Christen Doris and Eva Moravick. Parents who decide to admit their children do so because they like the idea. In our school, the approach is towards collaborative and problem solving based learning. This is totally in alignment with the development of 21st Century Skills of 4 Cs Collaboration, Creativity, Communication and Critical thinking.
W e, at CHIREC, incorporate these skills from our pre-primary classes and a common thread and vision is built up. Naturally the students who have been with us since the pre-primary are more adept and set in CHIREC practices rather than students who have come from different learning environments.
How do you perceive the pre- school market in the country?
The specific objective of pre-primary education is to provide all necessary care and education to young children for their development through physical, cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional growth. Pre-school is the time to develop the skills to prepare the students for formal education in class I. Students are provided opportunities to develop gross and fine motor skills, creativity, and social skills in a fun filled ambience which is conducive to learning. Hence, a strong pre-school programme is the solid foundation on which a good education is laid and it is essential for a good schooling.
What are the growth opportunities that you foresee in this segment in the future?
The pre-school segment seems to be most flourishing at this juncture. However, quality pre-schools which understand the science behind the learning process and the correlation with developmental stages, may be limited. The need is felt more in the major cities, but with more and more both parents working in the 2 and 3 tier cities, the need of good quality pre-schools with trained staff is the need of the hour.
What role does quality pre-school education play in shaping the minds of the students?
Early childhood development programme and curriculum should contain all opportunities for development of physical, cognitive, language, emotional and social domains with necessary learning activities. There should also be flexibility in the way these are applied allowing for individual differences to be accommodated.
What are the lacunas, as per you, in the pre-school segment in the country? How can they be rectified?
Pre-school segment faces challenges of non-availability of trained teachers, high real estate cost and vague government rules and regulations, lack of regulatory mechanism for this segment. Design of a proper curriculum is necessary to ensure smooth transition to formal schooling with meaningful and progressive learning experiences. Lack of awareness on pre-school education is a major challenge. All these will need concerted effort and proper regulation to be set right. Setting of proper training centres for specialist pre-school teachers is a must.