The disruption of the pandemic has transitioned teachers, students, and parents in India into a new learning landscape. The hybrid education model relieves the potential of online learning systems by offering optimum flexibility and freedom to both educators and students. Delving deep into the discussion Dr. E. Prasad Rao, Chairman, Paramita Educational Institutions had an interaction with Kaanchi Chawla of Elets News Network (ENN). Edited excerpts.
Paramita Educational Institutions was established in 1996. In the last 25 years, your institution has grown tremendously as an educational institution with passion and innovation. How has been your journey? Please shed some light on the hurdles in the path.
Paramita was not just a school, it was a movement to redefine quality and equity in education. Schools in the region and across the country were steeped in archaic and out-of-place learning. To dismantle lackluster schooling experiences, meaningless ritualistic and out-of-place, compelling learning, and changing the mindset of the stakeholders was a huge task. Industrial age education was at its peak. Students’ voices and choices never mattered. Schools were teaching, but teachers were never reaching the children. Students epitomised Robo. Learning was reduced to producing meaningless information with Xerox’s efficiency. It is the passion that has been set in motion to change the paradigm in Paramita. It was a tough task indeed, but going against the current and walking on the untrodden path was what we chose willfully and purposefully. We were considered mavericks, our approaches scoffed at, and bringing about change was a major challenge, a challenge we have overcome slowly but certainly. Today, after an eventful journey of 26 years, Paramita has shown to the world that if you have passion and drive it with a mission, breaking conventions is a possibility.
Indian education system follows multiple boards like CBSE, ICSE, or state in their schools. Which board does your school follow and why?
We have Telangana State Board, CBSE, and ICSE schools. The CBSE Board with the support of NCERT has brought about paradigmatic changes in curriculum design and delivery. CBSE Board has now taken up the task of implementing the National Education Policy, 2020, a major change maker in Indian education. We are convinced that the CBSE curriculum is comprehensive and relevant with a focus on 21st Century skills education, capacity building, and value education. Learning is fun, frolic, deeply engaging, and meaningful. Reskilling and Upskilling teachers are being done regularly.
What are your plans to equip your students with 21st-century skills and enhance the overall learning experience?
Paramita has been endeavouring to teach skills to children. Capacity building at the school level is extremely important. The employability and deployability of graduates have become untenable as employers find them less skilled. It has pioneered project-based learning in this region. Students explore diverse themes through projects such as model making, thematic, collection, and investigatory projects across the year. They select a theme – a social problem or a knowledge element and explore it. They hypothesise and go through the process and find solutions. The learning experience is highly rewarding indeed. We have Paramita TED x Club licensed by TED, New York. Also, we run Inter disciplinary learning from Pre-K to Grade Seven.
Hybrid Learning is somewhere reducing the role of teachers in students’ growth. Do you think the introduction of technology in the education landscape can completely erase the existence of teachers?
Blended and Hybrid models of learning are going to stay as technology is playing a major role in teaching and learning. The covid pandemic has tutored teachers to learn technology. Our take on hybrid learning is that it is interesting and promotes learning. Though hybrid learning does help but learning by discovery, teachers as a guide and mentors are always integral in ensuring assured and quality learning.
Your school is contributing immensely to India’s education sector. What are your expansion plans for this year and beyond?
With a student strength of five thousand plus, the Paramita Group of schools, with Iris World School and Explorica as sister concerns has set the benchmarks. We are a learning group, and grab what is good for students. For us, each child matters. We don’t believe in quantifying without subscribing to quality schooling experiences. However, we wish to reach out to as many numbers of children as possible.
Education has to be comprehensive, meaningful, and constructive. Students have to grow and evolve with the required skills and values. There should not be skill and value gaps. Education has to be holistic, much beyond skills and values.