Technology has made imparting education stress-free
Arcot S. Ganesh, Managing Director & Ganesh Akella, Finance Director, SMARTKiDz Educare India Pvt. Ltd
Technology has made imparting education stress-free
Arcot S. Ganesh, Managing Director & Ganesh Akella, Finance Director, SMARTKiDz Educare India Pvt. Ltd

Estrade Media Pte. Ltd., recently concluded the Estrade Education Conclave & Awards 2017 – Singapore, on 25th March 2017. Team Estrade got an exclusive opportunity to speak to Arcot S.   Ganesh, Managing Director – SMARTKiDz Educare India Pvt. Ltd. He is a vast experience of more than 25 years in leadership roles and holds a Bachelor of Science from Osmania Unversity. Following are the excerpts of Team Estrade’s conversation with Ganesh.

SMARTKiDZ is a Nationally Branded Chain of Preschools. Smartkidz is a venture of M/s Smartkidz Educare India Pvt. Ltd. It is an ISO 9001:2008 certified organization from TUV of Germany which is the 2nd largest certifying body in the world. Having its presence felt across different parts of India with 200+ centres’, it has further spreading its wings in the other areas as well. SMARTKiDZ emphasises on the overall development of the child through age-appropriate learning experiences, preparing them thoroughly for the next stage of their schooling.

Being inspired by Waldorf and Montessori Methodology, SMARTKiDZ has designed its curriculum to meet requirements of ICSE, CBSE & SSC Syllabus. SMARTKiDZ Preschool ensures that children learn as effectively and efficiently as possible in a caring and friendly environment where equal consideration is given to social, physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual development. Designed for children of 3 to 5 year olds, the complete curriculum focuses on how teachers can encourage, facilitate, and stimulate children’s learning and growth.

PATASHALA The source of knowledge is a division of SMARTKiDZ. Spread with 8 centres in three states of India, Patashala follows CBSE & SSC curriculum from class I to X. Teachers are trained to give quality education to children. They are also trained on Child Psychology and Personality Development. Patashala’s educational process focuses on providing more information keeping in mind the grasping capacity of the child so as to reduce unwanted stress. This type of educational process will help build a strong value based foundation.

  • How do you see the growth of Education and Skill Development initiatives in India Today?

The current education system in India cannot differentiate between the concept of information and the concept of comprehension and application. Information is aplenty. Internet is the biggest and best source of information. How we apply and use the information is what really matters.

A lot of people end up scoring very less even though they were toppers in their schools and what not and this is because the schooling system does not encourage application based thinking as much as it should. Should a student learn how to apply concepts he learns effectively, he will have a better scope in the future. And, I feel, it’s not that High School concepts are hard to grasp, it is just that they are taught in a way that discourages the student to apply the concept.

There’s a mismatch of education and skills that young people acquire and what the corporates require them to possess. Most of our curriculum is obsolete and lacks scope. Better training and learning opportunities with the approach to holistic development (soft + technical) can help India become a truly skilled nation.

India adds 12 million people to its workforce annually, but very few have any formal skill training. Today, only four per cent of the Indian workforce is skilled, in contrast to the 42 per cent in US, 76 per cent in Germany, 80 per cent in Japan and 96 per cent in South Korea. However, this could change if we reach out to more people with quality learning opportunities, revamp our existing infrastructure and execute plans more efficiently by making better use of monetary resources and support available.

  • What’s your view on the demand for skilled professionals in both the organized and unorganized parts across sectors?

A severe shortage of skills is apparent in the organized and unorganized sectors of the country’s economy. Approximately 93 per cent of the country’s workforce is in the unorganized sector. It contributes to about 60 per cent of the country’s GDP. Strengthening the skill base of the unorganized sector will improve productivity, working conditions, labour rights, social security and living standards.

The low literacy rate and lack of skill training of the vast majority of the Indian populace poses a major hurdle for its journey towards a knowledge economy. Therefore, policies to ensure higher quality education and the expansion of vocational education and skill training for the poor and underprivileged are needed in order to produce a new generation of educated and skilled employees who are flexible, analytical, and can serve as driving forces for innovation and growth.

  • There is so much stress on Engineering, Medical and MBA programs, a lot of this has been fuelled by the IT industry and related fields in our country, is this the only way to move ahead?

If life were to give you lemons, would you make lemonade? Or would you make a lemon cake? Or would you squeeze the lemon for its juice and pour it over your fish fillet? The opportunities to use the lemon outside of lemonade are endless. The important thing is you have the lemons and know how to use them.With the help of mentors, you can strategize a way to leverage your strong analytical skill set to get you on the career path you would like to achieve.

But despite so many options available. go for the thing you love to do. That will give you a satisfaction unlike anything else. Be it some field of study, photography, cooking, sports or anything else. if you manage to make your passion as your career, you will boom and be satisfied with what you do.

Do you see FDI in the Education sector coming to India in a big way? The sector has done really well over the years after all, so, any investments would be a safe bet. Your views.

The Government of India (“GOI”) has allowed for 100% Foreign Direct Investment (“FDI”) in the education sector under the automatic route. Recently, GOI also allowed for 100% FDI in the Construction Development projects which would also include educational institutions. These investments are also carried through the automatic route. However, despite allowing 100% FDI in the education sector, there has hardly been any investment in this sector and the response from foreign investors has been very lukewarm, to say the least.

The primary issue behind the lack of investment is the fact that the investment must be done through a not-for-profit entity. The not-for- profit character would inevitably require the Indian entity to be either registered as a Society or a Trust (in case of schools, colleges, and private/deemed universities) or a Section 8 Company (mostly in case of schools) under the Companies Act, 2013. This not-for-profit requirement has become a major bottleneck for attracting investments.

Further, detailed guidelines should be laid down regarding routing of such foreign investment to ensure that there are no confusions with regards to the foreign investments in the education sector

  • Which segment, the Education industry or the Skill Development industry, is expected to see a surge over the next 2 years?

Skills and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and social development of any country. They have become even more important given the increasing pace of globalization and technological changes provide both challenges that is taking place in the world. Countries with higher and better levels of skills adjust more effectively to the challenges and opportunities of globalization.

  • Is Education for all commercially viable? How job related skill development can be made a part of this, at all levels?

There are many people in the world who are not able to receive basic education (3 R’s) such as Reading, Writing and Arithmetic (Literacy) skills. India has keenly pursued the Education for All (EFA) goals that are defined in the area of early childhood care and education, primary education, gender, youth and adolescents, adult education and quality of education. Therefore in recent past, India has made progress in terms of increasing primary education enrolment, retention, regular attendance rate and expanding literacy to approximately three fourths of the population.

Skill development brings return to the individual, the employing enterprise, and the economy. Therefore, all stakeholders, the Government both at Centre and States, the enterprise – public and private, and the direct beneficiary – the individual, would share the burden of mobilizing financial or in-kind resources for skill development. The Planning Commission will also provide a specific budgetary provision for skill development in the State plans. In addition, private sector investment in skill development will be encouraged through innovative methods.

  • What is the key change you strongly feel that the Government must do in policy?

The Government must bring out a National Education Policy to meet the changing dynamics of the population’s requirement with regards to quality education, innovation and research, aiming to make India a knowledge superpower by equipping its students with the necessary skills and knowledge and to eliminate the shortage of manpower in science, technology, academics and industry.

  • Digitization has been a key technology disrupter in various industries. How it is affecting the Education sector?

Digital disruption is everywhere—with the potential to reshape markets faster than perhaps any force in history. Industries like Technology Products and Services, Media and Entertainment, Retail, Financial Services and Telecommunications are most vulnerable to disruption.

Digitization in education industry has totally changed the learning and also the teaching process to a very great extent. Technology has made imparting education stress-free for both students and educators. Schools are gradually implementing digital teaching solutions to involve with a generation of learners familiar with the likes of PlayStations and iPads and trying to make the classroom atmosphere more broad and participatory. Information and communication technology in education has facilitated student understanding, students are perhaps the most ready and exposed to external education but they are in the best situation to absorb what comes up in the classroom. Currently students live in a world that is constantly linked and alive outside the class room, so traditional methods won’t work now. The true revolution in education can only be achieved via digitization of education so that students can learn at their own speed both within and outside the classroom. Their learning upgrades while they carry on to advantage from fostering, mentorship and direction of their teachers.

  • What is the biggest challenge faced by the Education and Skill Development sectors in India? How do you propose the country should address this challenge?

There are several challenges which have been identified in skill development of the Indian Youth. For instance, increasing the capacity of the existing system to ensure equitable access for all, and, at the same time maintain their quality and relevance is a huge challenge.

This involves strong and effective linkages between the industry and the trainer institute with adequate provisions for constant knowledge upgrading of the trainers. Creating effective convergence between school education and the governmental efforts in the area of skill development also need to be reworked. All this has to be in consonance with Labour Market Information System. Other challenges include creation of institutional mechanism for research development, quality assurance, examination, certification, affiliation and accreditation. Needless to say, that the efforts should be on, to make skill development attractive and productive, to motivate the youth.

  • How do we inculcate environmental and social sustainability aspects in the education of students?

The major causes of environmental degradation are population growth, industrialisation, changes in consumption patterns, and poverty threatening the dynamic equilibrium that could exist between people and ecosystems. In an effort to address these issues, environmental education for sustainable development (EESD) is emerging as an important approach to encourage students to conserve and protect the natural environment in their schools and in their neighbourhoods. The main objectives of this research were to foster the acquisition and transfer of the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviour with reference to the protection of the environment and sustainable development.

The active teaching, learning approach is more effective in facilitating environmental education for sustainable development among school children.  Active teaching learning methods involve students in the learning process such as discussions, writing, asking and answering questions and engaging in their own learning. These activities in turn require students to use critical thinking skills such as analysis and evaluation. Teachers use a variety of approaches in student-active classrooms such as cooperative group work, debate and discussion, and open-ended problem solving.

  • What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work? What do you want your institution/ self to be remembered for?

If you want to succeed, you need to set individual goals. Without goals you lack focus and direction. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life’s direction; it also provides you a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding. Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve, and ends with a lot of hard work to actually do it. In between there are some very well defined steps that transcend the specifics of each goal

  • What advice would you give to students and job seekers today?

Getting a post-college job in this economy requires a new way of thinking about the job search and looking for work. Here’s how you can do it. Think Broadly, Act Globally, Do Your Research, Be Productive and Stay Positive remain focused. And the most important once you get a job remain in this job to learn and train effectively.