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Grace Pinto, Managing Director, Ryan International Group of Schools

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“The policy makers at all levels have to follow a collaborative approach that includes academic rigour combined with strong experiential learning which is the key for future employability and successful careers.”

How has the education System in India changed over the years?

Although it is true that the present day education system in the country has ample of scope for growth and improvisation, India can still boast of tremendous growth and incredible paradigms in the education space. The 21st Century technology-driven society has challenged the present education system in India. Integration of technology into teaching has challenged all educators to be in tune with the latest trends and to establish technology-based standards for students, teachers and administrators in K-12 classrooms.  Due to the increasing awareness of experiential learning, education is no more confined to the four walls.

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Technology has already changed our way of life to a great extent, and it has definitely changed the way we learn too.  In the near future technology is going to make the entire learning system easily accessible, interesting, and at the same time challenging for the students and teachers.  In-fact tablets, electronic screens, online lessons, digitized books have already pervaded the education sector and they are here to stay.  Although technology is still in its infancy in our country, there will be a paradigm shift where it will change the learning and the teaching process to a very great extent in the coming few years.

How has Ryan group brought about some instrumental changes in education through their schools?

Our overarching goal has been to provide quality holistic education.  Over the decades we have been incorporating new strategies and ideas as per the changing trends in education.  We have been in tune with the changing times and work with leading academicians and specialists to design our curriculum and delivery to maximize its effectiveness. We operate various schools under various boards – CBSE, ICSE, ISC, SSC & HSC. We also have schools offering education under the IB (International Baccalaureate) & IGCSE (Cambridge) curricula.

Our teaching methods ensure a strong conceptual understanding and academic rigor which enable our children to perform exceedingly well in various exams, including the board exams. With the experience we have gained with three decades of teaching lacs of children in the country, we have fine tuned our teaching methods to ensure that they are truly effective. Our assessment methodologies stress on individual attention and ensure high performance.  We pioneered the concepts of “No examination & usage of assessment”, “No Home Work” and the “Grading Assessment Pattern” which have now gained broad acceptance in India.

In addition to the high quality of academics, Ryan has been the first in the country to successfully pioneer various world-level events such as (1) Indian Model United Nations (INMUN): one of India’s largest and oldest United Nations simulation programmes. Every year, nearly 900 young delegates from various countries representing 120 nations explore international politics through debates and discussions.  INMUN aims to make youth aware of the vital role played by the United Nations, (2) International Children’s Festival of Performing Arts: is the Biggest Children’s Festival of Performing Arts in India.  Each year since 2000, more than 12,000 children from across the globe perform in this festival, thrilling the world with their theatrical performance.  It is an amalgamation of workshops, seminars and over 250 performances which include ballet, one act plays, street theatre, puppetry, folk dances and many other forms of Performing Arts, (3) Cultural Exchange Programmes – Global Exposure: Ryan encourages and organizes national and international exchange programmes for students to experience and learn various cultures across the border.  Ryan students have travelled to 60 countries for various educational and cultural exchange programmes.  Recently, students visited Thames Valley Summer School in UK for a similar education exchange programme, (4) NASA Experience: Students visit NASA Centre (USA) for a special workshop annually. It contributes towards honing a scientific fervor amongst the students. Ryan students have notched laurels with their scientific discoveries as well.  (5) Ryan TV – A media initiative: The concept of Education through Lens has been concretized to develop Media and Film-making skills in young Ryanites.  A full-fledged team of media and social broadcasters has taken on the responsibility of mentoring students to create India’s youngest breed of technicians, anchors, camera persons and producers. RYAN TV Ad Film Awards are organized annually, giving a platform to young students to showcase their talents in making short ad films. Ryan TV has become a grand success with students broadcasting their ideas on Television through “Young Jourknows” & “BBN – Beyond Breaking News” programmes and (6) The World Scholar’s Cup: Going a step ahead, we brought this prestigious International event to India for the very first time in 2012.  In its second season in 2013 we have broken the record amongst 40 countries in the world for hosting the largest regional round with 1500 participants in the history of the world scholar’s cup.  This event with international edge endeavors to enhance the general knowledge quotient of the participants, as they compete with each other on the topics of literature, science and bio-technology, art, music and history.  Besides these the Group has successfully initiated The Presidential Classroom – The United States of America, School Parliament, International Convention on Students Quality Control Circle (ICSQCC) and Doors to Diplomacy.  For its various activities Ryan has garnered eight Limca Book of Records.

What are the Future trends which will change the education system in India?

Digitization has pervaded almost all the industries and education is no exception.  As technology is progressing at a rapid pace, the day is not far when each and every classroom of future schools will become completely digitized.  Today, there is a lot of demand for digital learning as it is extremely time-saving for both teachers and students.  However, digitization of education is going to create a big difference in the role of a teacher.  The teacher is going to be a facilitator and not mere presenter of content and information. With digitization, students will be able to easily collaborate with their peers.  Students will be able to learn on their own speed both within and outside the classroom.  While technology improves multi-tasking abilities and provides the latest global views and opinions on the subject matter, it is will be important to provide proper guidance to the students or else it can also hamper students’ growth as technology tools can be disruptive in nature.  Due to this, as educators we are required to transform the educational pedagogy and methodology by building a dynamic cross-silo community of experts and enhance the positive effects of technology in learning.

How have the policy makers in India both at the government and heads of Boards helped and shaped this space?

Over the decades, the policy makers at the government and at various boards have been striving to make education equitable with integration of emerging trends in education.  Their efforts have urged various institutions across the country to embrace change and implement policies to make education more engaging & meaningful.  Today as our children are exposed to technology from mobiles to computers and all sorts of devices and even the employment criterion does lay a great emphasis on practical knowledge as educators we need to create world class global organizations to produce application-career oriented world class citizens and in view of this we first need to create an environment that encourages strong emphasis on hands-on-projects, experiential learning, problem solving, and critical thinking through collaborative and cooperative learning.

Policy makers and heads of various educational institutions should create an engaging, motivating, and intellectually stimulating learning experience. They must provide such learning experiences that develops not only employable but who can make a difference as socially and ethically responsible global citizens. They should enhance student engagement and learning through effective integration of latest developments in education. They should continuously improve teaching practice/methodology through professional development and training.  They should also put emphasizes on holistic and collaborative education with involvement of teachers, parents, administrators, and community members.

What are the opportunities in Education sector?

The ground realities do indicate the need for more educational institutions to meet the demands of the growing population.  In view of this, India does need a breed of progressive leaders in education who could be the trailblazers of quality education in the country.  Education industry is one of the fastest developing sectors worldwide and provides ample of opportunities.  The Indian education system is one of the largest in the World which gives rise to the fast pace expansion of private professional institutes.  The education sector also opens up the door for establishing coaching institutions, vocational training and foreign collaboration.  Those who are willing to invest in this sector need to provide accessible quality education at all levels such as K12 schools, Tertiary Education, Primary education, Secondary Education, Higher education, International studies and so forth.  While the Indian education sector offers plenty of opportunities, educators need to be focused on an integral vision and being anchored to the true essence of education in giving access to the right of education to every child is the core value of being in education.

What are the challenges faced by you as the head of a large education Group?

Challenges are meant to strengthen character and as such the nature of the challenges we have faced have only caused us to stay grounded and rooted in values and our faith. The challenges were varied and complex in nature and largely a result of misperception. That said, it has been good and humbling to be in the lifelong learning mode- “learning from and for life” while in leadership. Apart from that the key for us to succeed has not just been to learn from our experiences but also to anticipate and act ahead to enable preventive action as far as possible. We are grateful for having to our Lord Jesus Christ for blessing us with well- wishers and consultants, and our school community stakeholders who continually motivate us to in different ways to stay ahead of the curve.

Like all segments, education also has its positives and challenges.  Today as the education sector has been privatized, there is much competition. It is becomingly increasingly important to develop in this segment of education and innovate and be progressive in approach, fine-tuned with the changing trends in global education and leadership.

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