Join Sandeep Dutt - Wednesday WEBdays are via Facebook Live

My Good School
Join Sandeep Dutt, Founder of Learning Forward and HundrED Ambassador from India as he goes live on the HundrED Facebook Page to share how learning must be an experience and not a mere outcome of going to school. 
'My Good School' program run by Learning Forward India empower students to personalize their learning by creating an environment for the personal and social development of an individual.

Where and when is the webinar?
Wednesday WEBdays are via Facebook Live and we invite everyone to actively participate in the conversation! You can access the Webinar by joining the HundrED Facebook page.
Join the conversation on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, at 09:00 (UTC).
2.30 pm Indian Standard Time
Who is Sandeep Dutt?
Sandeep Dutt is one of the HundrED Ambassadors from India. As School Coach, Sandeep Dutt focuses on school transformation with an emphasis on culture as a service. 30 years of experience as a trainer and mentor, he has been involved with schools across India and worked with teachers and students across the socioeconomic environment.
Sandeep is the Founder of Learning Forward India (LFIN), which is an affiliate of Learning Forward (LF) for any person interested in professional growth and organisational development. LFIN shows you how to plan, implement, and measure high-quality professional learning so you and your team can achieve success with your system, your school, and your students.
Sandeep is also the Chairman, Bhadrajun Artisans Trust since 2012 and spearheads the growth of The Fabindia Schools Programme, by demonstrating excellence in school operations, involving the community and helping the rural youth live their dreams.

HundrED WEBdays take place weekly via Facebook Live and we invite everyone to actively participate in the conversation! You can access the webinars by joining the HundrED Facebook page. Contact our Global Community Manager, Pukhraj Ranjan, for more information:

#HundrEDOrg #LearningForwardIndia #hundrED #WEBday #Wednesday

Know our Trustees: Prableen Sabhaney

Image from Google search
The Fabindia School is managed by a not-for-profit Society called the Bhadrajun Artisans Trust, registered with the Registrar of Societies in Delhi. The Bhadrajun Artisans Trust (BAT) was established by William and John Bissell to build social development programs with a focus on education and crafts.

Prableen Sabhaney, a member of The Fabindia School Board, heads Communications and Public Affairs at Fabindia Overseas Private Limited.

Besides brand perception management, she specializes in strategizing, preparation and management of messaging and communication initiatives to facilitate information flow and dissemination of knowledge.

Prableen is of the firm belief that focused communications is the final differentiator and should be viewed as a strategic investment. In her previous capacity as an independent consultant, for over two decades Prableen has worked with companies, organizations and institutions across a variety of sectors and verticals, providing strategic inputs and creating individualized programmes which have included media training and the use of multimedia platforms to facilitate effective outreach in a constantly changing landscape.

She has also worked with and participated in a number of panels examining concepts relating to Brands and the idea of Social Entrepreneurship and Responsibility, which is an area of particular interest.

Fabindia Overseas Pvt Ltd is India’s largest private retail platform for a wide range of contemporary, lifestyle, craft-based products produced largely in rural areas, using traditional skills and techniques.

Bharti Rao: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

The Education System is based on the idea of Academic ability. Whether it is home or school everywhere you hear that if you want to get a job you need to show your academic ability; you need to have a degree. But this is not true, today if we go to see we see thousands of youngsters sitting unemployed at home. This is all due to Academic inflation. Degrees are worthless.

Current Education needs to change its role in the light of increasing importance being accorded to creativity. Steps in schools are being taken for the implementation of creativity in education.  In today’s world creativity is an important aspect of teaching and learning. Creativity is necessary for personal, economic, cultural and social reasons. It is not necessary to obtain success you need to have Academic Excellence. A child when born has some talent or capability and he can obtain success through his this talent or capability.

Creativity isn’t a test to take, a skill to learn, or a program to develop. Creativity is seeing things in new ways, breaking barriers that stood in front of you for some time. Creativity is the ability to make dreams come to life. In the education system, it is just a cycle of sitting still, memorizing, testing and getting jobs. Very few people have tried to challenge this and those who have done have made all the difference in their life like Albert Einstein, Walt Disney etc. Schools in today’s world need to implement more innovative and creative methods so that they may not destroy the fascinating and curious minds.
Bharti Rao
Vice Principal The Fabindia School

Know our Trustee: Dr Babli Moitra Staff

Pic courtesy IP College website
Dr Babli Moitra Saraf Principal, Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi, India.

Principal, Babli Moitra Saraf, is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Head of the Department of Multi-Media and Mass Communication. She has received her M.Phil degree in English and PhD in Sociology. She is fluent in several Indian and foreign languages. Her doctoral thesis studies language change in the advertising industry in India in the first phase of globalization (1984-94), and the emergence of the Indian urban middle-class identity. Active as a teacher both within and outside her College, her teaching interests include Translation, Poetry, Modern Indian Literature in Translation, Classical Literature, Renaissance and Modern European Drama, Poetry, The Bible, Cultural Studies, Communication Studies, Literary Theory, Literature and the Arts and the Hindi Film Song. She presents her academic work regularly among national and international peers. Her ongoing research examines traditions of Orality, Embodied Languages and Performance in the context of Translation and Translation Studies.

Dr Moitra Saraf taught in the Department of English in Delhi University’s Ramjas College for 29 years before joining I.P. College as Principal on 1 July 2009. She has studied the Corso Superiore at the Università per Stranieri at Perugia, Italy. She has taught Italian at the Istituto Di Cultura Dell’Ambasciata Italiana at New Delhi. She has a Diploma in Spanish from the Department of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of Delhi. She translates from several Indian languages as well as from Italian, into English and Hindi. Among others, she has translated the Bengali activist-novelist Mahasweta Devi’s works into Italian in collaboration with Maria Federica Oddera. Her publications, La Cattura (Theoria, 1996) and La Preda e altri Racconti (Einaudi, 2004), are acclaimed translations. Her work Rajouri Remembered (2007), is a translation of a family narrative, from Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and oral history, recounting the effects of the Partition of India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. She has co-edited with Shormishtha Panja Performing Shakespeare in India: Exploring Indianness, Literatures and Cultures (New Delhi: Sage, 2016). Her latest publication is Hey Diddle Diddle: Tun-Tun Tara-Tara (New Delhi: Vani Prakashan, 2017), which are Hindi adaptations/translations of popular nursery rhymes in English.

She is on the editorial board of Translation: a transdisciplinary journal (Rome), and on the editorial board of Saar Sansaar (New Delhi) – a journal translating from original foreign writings into Hindi.  She is a member of the Scientific Board of In Other Wor(l)ds: Project Book Series on translations from Asia and North Africa. Department of Asian and North African Studies, Ca’Foscari University, Venice, Italy. Dr Moitra Saraf serves on various academic and administrative committees of the University of Delhi, and the Govt. of India.

Babli Moitra Saraf has been a scholar under the Indo-Italian Cultural Exchange Program, a Research Associate at the NIDA School of Translation Studies (NSTS), Misano, Italy in 2009 and Visiting Faculty at NSTS 2011. She received the Distinguished Teacher Award of the University of Delhi in 2009, the Amity Women Achiever in Education Award in 2010. In 2010 she was invited to be part of the first all-women, six-member Indian delegation to visit Saudi Arabia on a people to people contact program under the Delhi and Riyadh Declaration and represented the Education sector. She received the 27th Dr. S. Radhakrishnan Memorial National Award for Teachers in 2011, the Fulbright- Nehru International Education Administrator Seminar award in 2011. She also received the “C.F. Andrews Distinguished Alumnus Award for Lifelong Pursuit of Excellence” from St. Stephens College in 2015, the “Women of the Decade in Academia”, Award of the Women Economic Forum in 2017 and the Certificate of Felicitation of the International Women’s Club (Unit of UNF), for “Remarkable Contribution in the Field of Administration & Education for Girls”, also in 2017. In 2018 she was felicitated with the “Girl Centric Tertiary Education and Training” award from the Women’s Agency for Generating Employment (WAGE), New Delhi. She also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from TESTCOIN, CIU, NICER, and IIEE, on the occasion of United Nations World Teachers Day Celebration, 2018.

As the 10th Principal of the historic Indraprastha College for Women, the oldest women’s college of the University of Delhi, her professional experience of over three decades with young adults as a teacher and education administrator, has enabled her to actively engage and make interventions in the particularities of the female experience. She has presented extensively on gender and institutional structure and processes. Dr Moitra Saraf’s constant effort is to blend tradition and modernity and preserve and promote the College’s heritage and revolutionary legacy. She has made significant interventions in academic and co-curricular activities, created centres of research and training, augmented learning resources and introduced new courses of study. She has introduced and promoted innovative measures to preserve the historical legacy of the College and its natural green cover and environment. The crucial element of her vision is to mainstream the marginalized sections of students. She has introduced many empowering facilities for economically and socially weaker sections of girls, enabling measures for disability access including a barrier-free institution. I.P. College today boasts of global level infrastructure for a wide range of academic, outreach and extension programs. The College was accredited with A Grade by NAAC in 2016 and has gone on to win national and international awards.   

Bhadrajun Artisans Trust (BAT) is a Society, registered with the Registrar Of Societies in Delhi. The society operates The Fabindia School.
The Members of the Society are:
1. Mr Sandeep Dutt - Chairman
2. Ms Prableen Sabhaney - Treasurer
3. Ms Poonam Singh Chauhan - Secretary 
4. Mr Ravi Kaimal
5. Mr Rajkumar Rodla
6. Dr Babli Moitra Saraf
7. Ms Anjana Batra
- Source (website of the Society)

India is the place to go if you want to change the world

Gavin McCormack
Principal at Farmhouse Montessori School. BA(Hons) 6-12 Trained Montessori Teacher +30,000 connections on LinkedIn

With 1.1bn people, India is the place to go if you want to change the world. Whilst delivering teacher training there I was asked: “what I thought were the most important parts of the curriculum?”

I pondered the question overnight and came back with a response that I think is the most important part about teaching our future leaders.

The most important parts of the curriculum are not written in any document, they’re not prescribed by the government and they certainly can’t be tested in a standardised way.

But, we MUST allow our children to build resilience and understand what it means to be mentally strong. The world and it’s inhabitants are not always easy to digest, life will knock you to your knees but you must get up and keep pushing on, but what do mentally strong people do?

• They move on and don’t dwell on the past.
• They embrace change and welcome challenges.
• They focus on what differences they can make and forgot what is out of their control.
• They’re kind, fair and unafraid to speak up.
• They are willing to take a calculated risk and get things wrong.
• They celebrate other people’s success.

#montessori #primaryschool #teacherlife #internationalschools #curriculum #pedagogy #preschool #mathematics #video #classroom #persistence #teacher
- Post from the LinkedIn profile of the author.

Ajay Vijayvargi: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

School kills creativity? It sounds strange, but it is true as our education system and most of the top-rated schools do this and we as parents also become a part of this system. The system emphasises on getting best grades and being successful in competitive exams in any stream with top ranks, the stream can be – U.P.S.C, IIT, NEET and so on, the list is endless.

Nowadays a new pattern has emerged that is getting a government job, for this, the students become a part of the rat race, those who become successful are glorified and the rest are declared unsuccessful in life. The worst part of this is that the system has entered to school level that too from classes VI onward when the individual is not even aware of this and the decision is taken mostly by parents. The schools play an important part in this system as they curb the natural talent and creativity of the child and at a tender age, they are moulded in the way their parents want, when the parents desire and students talents match the result is fruitful but in most of the cases when the creativity and talent of a child is suppressed, the results are alarming, both for the individual and the society.

On the contrary, the schools should nurture the creativity and talent of the child right from primary classes and the progress card should be such designed so as to give an idea of the natural inclination of the child towards any stream, to the parents and help them in directing their child in the right direction.

Thus we see that the role of a school is very important in observing and nurturing the creativity of a child and give the right opinion to the parents for a bright future of the child/individual thereby it will benefit the family society and the nation as a whole.

- Ajay Vijayvargi, Dean Learning Forward at The Fabindia School, email

Learning & Development Manager for Learning Forward in India

Conduct and supervise learning programs and staff skill development for schools. Work for enhancing productivity and quality of work, and building the passion in the school staff to lead young people.
Summary and Main Purpose:
The post will be responsible for the key areas of Learning, building resources and training at The Learning Forward Academy. This post will also actively participate in aspects of Strengthening the Structure and Leadership Development. Work closely with the Educators and the Community to ensure coordination of activity, policy and strategy.

The role has overall responsibility for the key areas of:
  • Design, develop and implement the capacity building and training, particularly in the developing and facilitating of best practices, deliver training & learning programs and plans.
  • Maintain and develop effective and productive relationships with key delivery partnership organisations and others. Stakeholder engagement is a key area of focus.
  • Proactively develop and support the staff and students at The Fabindia School
Scope of work
Training specialists - plan, organize and direct a wide range of training activities. Help to conduct orientation sessions and arrange on-the-job training for new employees. Help rank-and-file teachers, non-teaching staff and support staff to maintain and improve their job skills, and possibly prepare for jobs requiring greater skill. Help supervisors improve their interpersonal skills in order to deal effectively with students and the school community. In order to identify and assess training needs within the school, the trainer may confer with the management and supervisors or conduct surveys. Will also periodically assist in the evaluation training effectiveness.

Learning methods include on-the-job training; classroom training; and electronic learning, which may involve interactive Internet-based training, multimedia programs, distance learning, satellite training, videos and other computer-aided instructional technologies, simulators, conferences, and workshops.
In addition to the role as a Trainer and counsellor to the school staff the individual will have added responsibilities:
  • Proactively manage staff development activities and the learning calendar. This includes the managing of visits of guests and invitees and from time to time connect with the alumni, friends and outside groups.
  • Work with the Principal, relevant faculty and staff, establish development objectives and priorities for the School. Will also be responsible for updating and maintaining official documents of the school at one source.
  • Will be required to travel with the Principal and the School Coach for meetings, training, learning and development programs.
Other leadership accountabilities include:
  • The incumbent must have the requisite experience and expertise to effectively lead and make a substantive impact in an environment with both indirect and direct reporting relationships and highly varied stakeholders.
  • This position requires strategic planning plus strong interpersonal skills and the ability to influence at all levels of an organization.
  • Strong negotiation and motivation skills, as well as innovation and self-confidence, are success factors for this position.
  • This position requires a forward-looking, strategic mindset with the imagination and foresight to conceptualize new ideas and opportunities, as well as the implementation skills to bring those ideas to fruition.
  • The incumbent must demonstrate the ability to inspire and lead a team of dedicated professionals.
  • This individual should be both a confident leader and roll-up-your-sleeves contributor as needed.
  • Skill in motivating others, including senior management, faculty, volunteers, prospects, alumni and staff.
  • Strong interpersonal skills. Must be able to work effectively with others (often with diverse interests and opinions) to accomplish a goal.
  • Excellent organization and analytical skills.
  • Leadership and the ability to appreciate and articulate the School’s, values and programs to prospects, donors, volunteers and development staff in an engaging, motivating and inspirational manner.
  • A demonstrated a successful track record of working effectively with academic leaders.
  • Exceptional communication and excellent interpersonal skills. A clear and confident communication style which shows spirit, enthusiasm and integrity.
  • Have the managerial skills to set up and operate the Learning Forward India Academy.

To the Principal, for assisting in Staff Learning and Development
To the School Coach, for growing the School Leadership Development Program, for helping in the operations and delivery of the learning and development work to enhance the vision of the Founder of Learning Forward India.


The Manager Learning & Development will help take learning forward and work to consolidate the efforts of the Principal and the School Coach, to help prepare the Educators and the HR to take further the vision of the Learning Forward India and build a sustainable organisation.

No CV or reference needed, just send us an email to, if you have the guts of working with a Startup and are happy to live in the arid lands of Rajasthan at Bali village in Pali district.

Schools Can Change - The Indian Experience

This document provides a step-by-step, systemic approach to the change creation process. We are certain this work will be of invaluable help for school transformation. 

Pay an annual subscription of 500.00 INR
Use this link to follow  
Learning Forward India Academy
Sandeep Dutt, School Coach and the Founder Learning Forward India partners Karl Clauset of National Centre for School Change, for school culture transformation in India.  

Genuine effective school improvement requires leaders and teachers to be part of a broad-based, creative change system that focuses on generating improved teacher practices for enhancing student learning. 

India On Track – a grassroots sports development company

They have created specialized football, basketball & badminton training and development programmes for schools in India, through the LaLiga Football Schools, NBA Basketball School and Prakash Padukone Badminton Schools. These training programmes are being set up with select institutions that share our passion and fervour for sports and development as well as inculcating a culture of a sport among young students to create healthier bodies and minds.

India On Track and Partners have created In-School and After-School training and development programme, with a comprehensive curriculum. The programme is executed during/after school hours by the IOT and partners suited to the requirements of the school. The programmes are open to students who are interested in learning football, basketball or badminton, irrespective of their abilities.

Viraj Singh
India On Track
Mobile +91 9871513231
Landline +91.11.65950004

Helpful Icons: Friendship and Hope

Helpful Icons showcase the value of Friendship.
The Value of Values
The Iconic School

Responsible Icons: Friendship and Hope

Responsible Icons present a beautiful video to explain Friendship and Hope. The Value of Values in progress at The Iconic School Bhopal.
#HappyTeachers #MyGoodSchool #22Values
22 Immutable Values - Appreciation, Caring, Co-operation, Courage, Freedom, Friendship, Happiness, Honesty, Hope, Humility, Love, Patience, Peace, Quality, Respect, Responsibility, Simplicity, Thoughtfulness, Tolerance, Trust, Understanding & Unity.

The Value Of Values explores twenty-two values that can be taught through schools and indeed the whole community. This program will inspire you by using examples of where values are already being used by children and adults in schools and share practical tools to stimulate discussion and philosophical debate. It will also help people to take stock of their own values and how they wish to lead their life.

Ravi Kaimal: Building The Fabindia School

Ravi Kaimal has been involved with the school since the first brainstorming discussions with John and William Bissell. Ravi is a professional architect and is responsible for the design of the school buildings. He was also Chairman of Bhadrajun Artisans Trust (BAT), the non-profit, tax-exempt charitable society founded by William Bissell which established the school in 1992 and continues to help guide the school and provide financial support. Ravi writes, “The first block was designed to be built using maximum local materials and local skills so that it could be done with the least cost and time. The buildings are made almost entirely of stone available in the local area, and there is no wood used as wood is expensive and vulnerable there. This also came close to Mahatma Gandhi's approach of using only materials which were locally available. So our buildings are very much of their place, geography, climate and people. They are also optimized for their function, with very little energy being used.
On the start of the hot summer of 1992 at the start of digging for the foundations of the first block at the school in Bali, the earth was so hard that water- bought from a farmer- had to be poured on it to break it! As you can see today, the land was barren and there was no soft greenery, only thorny bushes.”
Ravi Kaimal, visiting the area frequently prior to the school being set up to collaborate and brainstorm with John and William Bissell; As the Principal and Founder of Kaimal, Chatterjee Associates, an architectural firm in New Delhi, Ravi is responsible for designing the innovative Fabindia School campus, including the use of green space and open buildings. Ravi's formal training includes a B. Arch (1987) from the School of Planning; Architecture, New Delhi and has been practising in Delhi since 1990. Ravi's interests and experience extend beyond architecture to photography, art direction for films (Art Director of Arundhati Roy's feature film) and rural education; Ravi has travelled extensively in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, US, Spain, Italy and UK photographing places of architectural and environmental significance. He is the recipient of a prestigious UNESCO award for heritage conservation for his work in Rajasthan.

Kalpana Jain: Responsibility and Co-operation

#22Values, The Value of Values in progress at The Iconic School Bhopal. #HappyTeachers #MyGoodSchool. Kalpana Jain shares her views on Responsibility and Co-operation.
22 Immutable Values - Appreciation, Caring, Co-operation, Courage, Freedom, Friendship, Happiness, Honesty, Hope, Humility, Love, Patience, Peace, Quality, Respect, Responsibility, Simplicity, Thoughtfulness, Tolerance, Trust, Understanding & Unity.

The Value Of Values explores twenty-two values that can be taught through schools and indeed the whole community. This program will inspire you by using examples of where values are already being used by children and adults in schools and share practical tools to stimulate discussion and philosophical debate. It will also help people to take stock of their own values and how they wish to lead their life.

Anjuli Bharvaga: The Lost And Found Potential Of Gaurav Singh

Courtesy LinkedIn Profile
Finding what motivates you is a lonely journey, often disappointing for those who surround you

A single child with a single parent, growing up in Lucknow in a joint family, Gaurav Singh, now 33, had a linear upbringing that allowed him to look at only two serious career options: an engineer or a doctor. A bright student, academics came easily to the 10-11-year-old who often ranked among the top in his class in school. His mother – who he affectionately refers to as Jhansi Ki Rani - was often told that her son had real potential and that he could simply walk into an IIT after school and end up with a great job that paid him handsomely. The passport and all drivers for success: a good job, a wife, a house and a big car to drive – lay well within his grasp. But as Gaurav approached his teenage years, he began to question what he was doing here on earth and what the purpose of life was, unusual preoccupations for a 13-year-old but there it was. He didn’t want to go to IIT just because he could. The prospect of owning a big car didn’t move him. He couldn’t care less about house ownership. A job in some MNC and a wife sounded even less alluring. As the years went by, Gaurav began to study less, appeared less and less motivated and performed far below what was expected of him and what he was capable of. “There goes lost potential” is what people in the wider family and community around him began to say. For a few years, all did appear lost, especially to his mother who had nurtured the boy with love and careful attention to his every need. She began to question where she had possibly gone wrong. Why were all threats or rewards not enough to motivate her bright spark of a son? He appeared to have great potential, yet he seemed set on squandering it away. Nothing seemed to motivate him or hold his attention.
Gaurav says his only hope at that stage were books and that’s what saved him. He himself didn’t have any answers but he knew that the conventional path did nothing for him. “I was happy to do something but I wanted something meaningful and no one around me could understand what I was harping on about”. He says he spent all those years “disappointing” everyone who mattered the most to him. “None of the usual drivers cut it for me”. With his state of mind, IIT was a far cry but he did head to the cool climes of Himachal to do an engineering degree at a private college. Although Gaurav continued to perform quite mediocrely at his studies, he spent hours teaching his fellow students. He was always more intrigued by how best to explain a concept to a peer than studying his own books and performing well. “I would spend hours teaching my peers subjects that they were struggling with while almost failing mine!”, says he. Gaurav finished his studies and joined Accenture in Hyderabad as a coder. Again, he was less than excited about his job although he didn’t mind the actual work. His friends – several of whom envied his position and would give anything to be there – often commented on how indifferent he seemed, at times making him feel guilty about not appreciating what he had. He worked for almost one year in a desultory manner, earning a decent amount of money when he came across the first advertisement by Teach for India in 2008 in a day old newspaper at a friend’s house. “It was the first thing I saw that spoke to me”, says Gaurav. Here was something that excited and motivated him. He quickly applied and for the first time in his life threw his heart and soul into preparing for something: in this case the interview. Once he was in, Gaurav remembers meeting the almost 100 other fellows selected in the first batch of the programme and thinking “where were all of you all these years of my life”. At one go and for the first time in his life, he met a bunch mostly his age to whom he could fully relate and where he felt he belonged. Gaurav says he was so overwhelmed that he actually wept in private. Gaurav taught for one year at a school in Pune before moving as a Teach for India fellow to a government school in Mumbai. He says he’s proud of how quickly his mother turned around. She couldn’t quite fathom why he would want to work for so little but she could see that he’d found what he’s wanted. He worked hours incessantly and took pleasure in what he was doing. She saw her only child happy and motivated and that was enough for her. For Gaurav, the two years were life-changing. He finally knew what he’d been looking for. This is where his calling lay. And he was happy that his mother was so accepting. In some senses, her own life and peace of mind were deeply entwined with his success and unless he seemed motivated, success was out of reach. He didn’t care about what others thought but he didn’t want to disappoint her in any way. While working with Teach for India, he became aware of two things: how critical a role a teacher played in the entire journey of a child’s education. It was for him the single make or break factor. And second how little we equipped our teachers with to do what he felt was one of the most difficult tasks ever: hold the attention of 25-30 restless 8 or 10-year-olds for several hours a day. This, in today’s day and age, when distractions are simply endless. “Look at how things have changed for doctors in 100 years and how they have changed for teachers. A blackboard became a whiteboard but what else? Doctors, on the other hand, have no end of tools, machines and technology at their disposal”, he argues. Teachers he feels have largely been left to their own devices and are expected to perform a miracle out of nothing. Second, he feels that unlike many other professions, there are no accepted or established best practices that teachers can draw upon. “They are expected to figure out everything on their own while everything remains the way it did 50 years ago”, he adds. The profession remains poorly paid and women dominated. “If it was remunerative, there’s no reason why more men and women would not become teachers instead of bankers or lawyers”, he points out. The third thing he was convinced is that whatever improvements were brought in had to be scalable over time. To reach every teacher and student over a period of time, which was unlikely to be within his lifetime but a start nonetheless. He also wanted to set up an organization – a great place to work – where his own employees could feel they were having an impact and that they were having fun doing it. He wanted people to join in their 20s and work through till their mid-50s not join the education space in their mid-50s after they had more or less concluded their professional lives. “I didn’t want everyone joining to give back to society as we so often see. I wanted them to love what they were doing right from the word go”, he says. “I didn’t want people to look back and say: we had great impact but it was a horrible journey”, says Gaurav. That’s when the idea of 321 came to him. Set up as a foundation, 321 are focused on working with teachers in schools to help them teach better. There are 3-4 foundational principles that 321 uses to differentiate what it does from all the other thousand-odd NGOs who work on the same thing. One thing they found is that teachers, in general, were angry with them when they began going into schools to work with them. The teachers were fed up of training from NGOs that may work with 5 children but not 40. More often than not, they felt insulted by the approach of the NGOs. In most cases, the teachers argue that the training works at best in unreal, simulated classrooms. The real world is a different kettle of fish. That’s the first thing 321 tackles. It works to win over the teacher. “We never talk down at them and tell them what to do and how to do it. The process is very interactive”, explains Gaurav, arguing that “getting the teacher on their side” is where their success lies. So, solutions offered to teachers are carefully worked out to ensure that they work for both – the teacher and the student. “Placing a huge extra burden on an already burdened teacher doesn’t work as we have seen in the past”, says Gaurav. Therefore, 321’s training attempts above all to carry the teacher along. After each training, every single teacher is observed in the classroom to ensure that they practice what was decided upon as a new method of teaching. “Often, training ends and everyone goes back to the classes and teaches just as they did prior to the training. We make sure that doesn’t happen”, adds Gaurav. Moreover, 50 per cent of the time of the training is spent in practice instead of just talking to them. The teachers are divided into small groups and they simulate a classroom. The other teachers become students. The early sweet taste of success is a second motivator. On the first day or second day of training, they encourage teachers to assess how the new technique is working. Most teachers when they see the student responding and showing some excitement, it rubs off. “This is the light-bulb moment for many teachers: they ask why was I never told this”, explains Gaurav. Third, the programme is for two years and is very patient with teachers. Some teachers open up quite quickly while others take 6 months to a year. A recent assessment of teachers trained by Gray Matters India showed a substantial improvement in their teaching-learning, student interaction and assessment methods. The teachers often started below the average but quickly bridged the gap and showed marked improvements. Ashish Dhawan, the founder of Central Square foundation who has personally watched the journey of 321 says that they have adapted quickly to “apply their learning to solve a particularly sticky problem for low-income private schools - that of teacher capacity and motivation”. He says their “Project Ignite” has a very robust and engaging training and support curriculum for teachers. He says that 321 has been “exceptional in comparison to their peer set on two counts - in building and retaining a high-quality team with a vibrant culture and in being very data-driven in their approach." In its seventh year now, 321 currently works with teachers across 130 schools in three cities as of now: Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. This year the organization is working with around 2500 teachers. A second programme has been started where 321 is supporting the curriculum. This is only just begun and is being run in four schools as of now. The organization has been funded by main grants, foundations (40 per cent of the money) and CSR funds (another 40 per cent). Ashish Dhawan is the chair of the board and has been supporting Gaurav’s work from the word go. Schools also pay a small amount depending on their capacity. Moreover, 321 as an organization has a 90 per cent retention rate, the team that has grown from 7-8 people to around 75 now has an average age of 25 to 27 years. The Mumbai headquartered team, therefore, brings all the energy that only 25-year-olds can and Gaurav infuses this energy with his own to prove that his real potential is yet to emerge fully. He’s finally found something worth his while though. Anjuli Bhargava <>

Curios Icons: Friendship and Hope

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Anjuli Bhargava: Forcing Their Hand

Education Alliance is adopting a version of the charter schools approach to fix India’s failing government school system

If you can’t beat them, join them. That’s the motto 45-year-old CEO of Education Alliance (EA) Amitav Virmani appears to have adapted to fix the government school system in the country.

And yes, he’s not thinking one city or the other (although he has started with Delhi) but the entire country. Further, he eventually wants to push for legislation in India where the government agrees to fund non-profit organisations to come and run government schools.

Sounds madly ambitious? That’s because it is!

But it’s not as if Virmani, a Doon school and St Stephen’s alumnus - has pulled a brand new rabbit out of his hat. He’s extensively studied the charter school model adopted in the US and the academy model in the UK and he’s out to prove that the two models can work as well in India if given an equal chance. There are 7000 charter schools across 42 states in the US. The UK has around 3300 academies. In both the systems, the schools are owned by the government but run by private operators. The idea is to bring the management, accountability and flexibility of innovation offered by private operators to government schools with regulation and public funding.

After having worked for six years as the head of UK’s ARK – an international charity that attempts to transform lives through education - as its India's head, Virmani is firmly convinced that all tiny and large initiatives taken by individual NGOs and organisations will eventually come to nought since the government system lacks all accountability. His own experience in the NGO sector showed him that most initiatives – teacher training, leadership development, capacity building – make a temporary difference and then once the project is over, so is the reform. “Things simply revert to status quo the moment the project is over”, he says. He actually started programmes and then went back a year later to find no trace of them.

So the only real way ahead is to force the government’s hand and get it to improve what it offers at a national level. Poor quality on offer has led to a situation where over the last decade, government schools are losing enrolment at the rate of 2.5 per cent per annum and by 2030 they will be left with just 33 per cent of the students studying in government schools, according to Central Square Foundation (CSF). Of the existing 900,000 government schools in the country, over, 350,000 have 50 students or less even when the infrastructure can house 500. “50 kids in the school across 12 grades, one teacher – no teaching or learning is happening whatsoever”, says Virmani.

Getting his first project off the ground was a challenge as he ran into all the usual bureaucratic hassles one can expect. After two years or so of banging his head against the South Delhi municipal corporation (SDMC) walls, Satish Upadhyay, the then chairman of the BJP education committee agreed to give him one school to demonstrate his model. He said he couldn’t give him any money but he agreed to allow him to prove his contention at a government school in Lajpat Nagar.

Virmani brought in the NGO Ark and within three months, the school strength went up from 9 to 120 students. From fixing simple things like the height of sinks in bathrooms to allow small children to wash their own hands independently to introducing robotics classes to improve critical thinking, the NGO running the school brought in new teachers, thoughts and techniques to get the students to “engage” more – one of the primary reasons for high drop out rates across the country. Today the school has 400 students with 16 teachers and runs like any good private school.

Once the model was demonstrated and they were able to dispel the myth that “gareeb bache tho seekh hi nahi sakte”, government officials asked EA to take over 100 schools, a request Virmani flatly refused, arguing that growth has to be sensibly paced. Moreover, his ability to take over and run the schools is limited since the government is not offering any funds so far. EA has raised external funds to support its work.

With further support of a few enlightened government officials – Meeta Singh, IRS and additional commissioner of the SDMC and Puneet Goyal, IAS and commissioner of the SDMC in particular – Virmani took charge of 12 schools in 2016 and stretched it to 30 schools in 2017.

The results have been quick to come. Parents are queueing up for admission and enrolment in the schools has picked up, leading to an increase of 62% to 6100 students in 30 schools. Encouraging academic gains have been observed in the 12 schools that have completed one year of intervention. In students progressing from Grade 3 to Grade 4, the observed academic gains in English and Math score were an increase of 17 basis points and 9 basis points respectively, according to an external evaluation done by Gray Matters India. In comparison, the average annual academic growth observed in students (Government/APS) on this scale is typically 5 basis points.

“The change is marvellous to witness. We have been able to dispel the myth that poor students can’t learn. If taught well, they can learn and perform as well as any other”, adds Virmani, who is also on the board of CSF.

There are many possible hurdles in what Virmani is attempting. One, finding the right NGOs is a challenge in an environment where the term “NGO” has almost become a “bad” word. Two, government officials and teachers are likely to protest once they realize that they are losing their grip over the system and three, overcoming the mindset is the biggest issue - not at all states and politicians will be convinced that the private sector can do a better job despite evidence that their own system is failing.

Yet support for EA has poured in from all over. A large number of donors have come forward to finance EA (see chart) and the list of NGOs who are pitching in to run the schools is growing.

Bikkrama Daulet Singh, managing director of CSF and one of the funders of the EA says that for them the monitoring of progress that EA brings to the table was one of the deciding factors. EA constantly monitors the NGOs and in the second year itself, four NGOs who failed to deliver were removed from the cohort. “Being selective about the partners they are working with and being able to introduce their own teachers into the system - at least in Delhi – has allowed EA to show results”, he adds.

But Delhi is not India, small is beautiful and it’s early days as yet for EA. As of now, at a state level only Rajasthan has recently embarked on a pilot project to offer 300 government schools with a 25%-75% urban-rural mix through PPP model.

Can what Virmani is attempting to be replicated on a large scale across 28 states in India? Your guess is as good as ours.

Education Alliance Is Working With :
Learning links foundation
Study Hall Education Foundation
Simple Education Foundation
I am a Teacher
LEAD Schools

Education Alliance Is Funded By :
Michael and Susan Dell Foundation
Omidyar Network
Ark UK
British Asian Trust (BAT)
Amit Chandra
Sidharth Lal
Dhruv Choudhrie
Tech Mahindra Foundation
Children Investment Fund Foundation (UBS)

Some of the new Initiatives Started in government schools :
Music Vedic Mathematics for fast computation
Music Classes to improve on Literacy and Numeracy
Robotics  Classes to improve Critical Thinking and Scientific inquiry
Teacher and Student storytelling to boost listening, recalling, confidence
Group activities to improve peer learning
Contextual songs to improve correlation skills
Push for critical thinking through summarizing stories
Use of Concrete (Abacus, Beads), Pictorial, Abstract methods to teach numbers
Use of children currency to understand transactions in daily life
Value-based education through class and school values
Assigning class roles to understand responsibilities and to relate them
Jodo Gyan material to better understand mathematical concepts

- Anjuli Bhargava,

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