Dr. Dakshayini Kanna, Director & Principal of Harvest International School, has around 30 years of experience in the field of education in India and abroad. She has been instrumental in setting up Business Schools and is well-versed with AICTE, UGC, NAAC, Indian and International Boards accreditation processes. In conversation with Dr. Kanna, Team Edvantage Point finds out about how Indian Schools are catching up to rapid technological changes across the world. (Watch the interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pme1PEJeN6Q&t=2s)
Q. With the advent of technology, every industry is affected by sweeping changes. How does Harvest International School stay updated with the changes?
A. We live in a world where we cannot do anything without technology. Children are very tech-savvy nowadays. For instance: Google and Microsoft have been supporting education. They visit schools and train teachers for free. We recently had “Danceathon” as part of our global outreach effort where we connected with 50 schools from Russia through Skype on a single day. Additionally, there are numerous visual aids. With technology, we can connect to labs in the UK and US. We give our kids virtual field trips and all we have to do is book a slot.
Therefore, adapting to technology depends on a school’s acceptance. It helps us in benchmarking ourselves. Data management becomes very easy. Collaboration beyond borders also is possible through various technological tools. However, there should be a moderate usage of technology in education.
Q. The CBSE comes up with changes to curriculum or syllabus on a regular basis. Given this scenario, how prepared is Harvest International School to deal with such abrupt modifications?
A. I must agree that it is difficult. Every week, we get a new circular from the CBSE with new set of rules. But, everything that the CBSE asks us to do, we are doing it. For instance: They say these are the topics you need to cover. But, they do not have limitations on the methodology. Therefore, we have a flexibility to do that. Since we have a well-planned curriculum which is integrated with IGCSE and ICSE, we ensure that the basic concepts are clear for our students. That way, they are prepared to answer any question in their exams.
Q. What are the challenges in implementing RTE in private schools, which mandates 25% quota for students from economically weaker sections?
A. One of the biggest challenges is to identify who belongs to the category and whether they really deserve it. We have seen so many kids getting off their cars and walking to the school from a distance. Also, language becomes a barrier for them within the class. Help at home becomes an issue. Peer influence on these kids also leads to depression and other anxieties in these kids. Sometimes, our staff stay back and help these kids finish their homework and pending lessons in school itself.
Q. How can we make Indian Education inclusive, especially schools?
A. Inclusion is coming in right now. We, at Harvest International School, accept kids with learning difficulties. People have begun accepting kids with learning difficulties. Children are very fast to adapt. They understand special kids well and are always inclusive. But, the parents are the ones who need to understand and adapt. Parents and teachers need to develop a mindset which fosters a culture of acceptance.
Q. How should kids be prepared for the next wave of transformation in the education system?
A. Today’s confusion is about validity. We are confused whether what we learn today would be relevant five years down the line or not. Therefore, skills are very important for kids. Along with academics, we need to teach them life skills such as communication, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, collaboration, etc. Value system also plays a major role in helping kids adapt to rapid changes and sustain through them. They should be taught to accept failure as well as achievements in the same stride. That will keep them going.
Q. Any words of wisdom for parents?
A. Learning or nurturing a kid is a three-way process – parents, teachers and peers. Unfortunately, we live in a time where there is a competition between parents, without realising the need and want concept. If a parent has bought a Samsung tablet for his/her child, the other parent buys an iPad for his/her child.
Parents should teach children how to do things on their own. They should also be taught to work towards whatever they want. It should not have anything to do with bribing or buying them something they want. Don’t treat your kids as fragile objects. They should be made mentally strong and be taught not to be ashamed of failures. Communication from parents has to be positive.
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(Edvantage Point is India’s go-to platform for education-related products and services. We facilitate online admissions and recruitment services for schools, offer career advice and counselling services for students).