Harjesh Singh Kaushal, the Director Of Finance and Business Development for MENA at Global Indian International School, speaks about how the education sector is coping with the hybrid learning scenario at the moment
How has the pandemic affected the education sector in the region?
Most of the schools have been adversely affected by the pandemic due to student attrition and continued high fixed costs such as building lease or bank loan. At the same, excellent schools have continued to invest in safety and technology to ensure that their students’ learning is not impacted by the current situation.
What sort of opportunities do you see in the regional education sector?
Certain models such as blended learning would continue to evolve and expand. Parents who were skeptical about the influence of technology on education have been positively surprised by the value-add technology can do to students’ learning experience. This adoption would continue to increase and school operators who are ahead in the curve to adopt and adapt technology in their learning model would continue to thrive.
Is there a digital disconnect despite tech tools being available for distance education?
More is definitely not better when it comes to tech products for learning. Operators who took a longer-term view in creating a technology ecosystem would be able to deliver a seamless learning experience to their students in the near future. Operators who patched up different technology products in response to rapidly evolving situations would continue to face challenges.
How can this digital disconnect be bridged?
Physical and virtual worlds need to converge but there is no defined equilibrium of this convergence. Several variables affect this – for example, age group of student, curriculum, hardware infrastructure, teacher training, security, and many others.
STEM has risen as the go-to stream of education during the pandemic. What importance does STEM have in developing the skillsets of a student?
Many school operators have reduced this to a buzz word while many others have created a structured program that is well integrated with the overall curriculum. A well-defined STEM program would have defined learning outcomes and builds upon a child’s previous knowledge and is built to evolve as changes happen in the real world.
In a world where global commerce is increasingly shifting online including wider acceptance of cryptocurrencies and as the man-machine interface becomes increasingly prevalent, STEM’s importance can’t be undermined. The bigger question is that are the schools really equipped to deliver what they promise to deliver.
Do you provide solutions today to make STEM learning a seamless experience?
Our program at Global Indian International School integrates with the wider curriculum. Students are given additional theoretical knowledge wherever necessary and in labs, they are encouraged to test and experiment to make, modify and motorize things. The program factors the prior knowledge and student’s preferences. We have partnered with reputed vendors for giving our students the best possible exposure in the field of their choice.
What about the security aspects of online learning. How can that be addressed?
There have been several reported instances whereby the data and privacy of students were compromised. Many incidents do not even get identified or reported. Investment in the right technology platform is critical. Many free apps and tools do not have the necessary security and data privacy features.
If a school doesn’t have a strong tech team and doesn’t have a defined screening and approval protocol for the introduction of new apps/tools, then it’s putting not only its own infra at risk but more importantly the data and privacy of its parents and students as well. Our organization has an in-house tech team that thoroughly investigates all new tech products and tools before they are introduced for wider use in our schools.