Posted on July 10, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu
The role of corporations in the upliftment of education and quality of learning has been recognized globally. The potential of the corporate sector to improve learning outcomes can be inferred from UNESCO’s ‘Education for All’ Goals and the ‘UN Global Education First’ Initiative.
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has adopted leadership of sorts in the collective social assignment of making quality education available to all children. The targets that the collective of corporates has set coincide with that of the Right to Education Act and many other public policies framed for development and propagation of education.
Corporate researchers recommend areas for high impact CSR spending in education which include establishment schools under Public Private Partnership (PPP), training of teachers and preparation of school leadership. Besides these, subjects like the application of technology in education, involving ICT in school education and in student assessment, co-scholastic or co-curricular schooling, early childhood or preschooling, nutrition and introduction of vocational education in secondary grades have been zeroed upon for strategic spending.
Social dividends of CSR contribution in School Education
The social dividends that directly follow with progressive spending on education are economic and social equity. Corporate spending on school education can enhance the quality of the human resource which would accelerate the economy.
The social component of education is extensive and has the potential to bring about social and economic justice. Quality education would bring in its wake better health care, the increment in incomes and standard of living. Furthermore, the quality of education will ensure higher political consciousness and democratic engagement. It will also increase the consciousness of human rights. One of the most notable prospective impacts lies in the girl education, Socio-economic studies have proved that investment on girl child education gives phenomenal developmental returns as it potentially affects the state of the entire family and communities.
Economic and Strategic need of CSR Investment on Education
It is commonplace to hear how good Indian diaspora is doing in U.S, UK or Australia but it cannot be denied that the situation of the inadequacy of skill set of the employees at home is retarding the development of companies in India.
There are certain findings from the investigations focused on the issue of effects of low levels of skills of the workforce on the enterprises like a global CEO survey which revealed that as many as 41% of Industry leaders including CEOs were forced to withhold, postpone or review important industrial initiatives due to the talent deficit in their firms.
Given the gravity of the situation in terms of the effect on the economy, CSR investment in education becomes a decisive measure.
There are quantitative assessments of the skill set and productivity which suggest that returns for the investment on education are exceptionally encouraging. Every 100 Rs. invested in the schooling of an Indian child translates into a return of 5300 Rs. for the employer of the resourceful employee the same child grows into.
Ways of corporate Intervention in School Education
It is emphasized by several corporations investing in school education that to create an impact, indirect modes of intervention like policy optimization, collaboration with civil society groups and governments should be explored.
In the current scenario, innovation could hardly be driven by the government system. Therefore one of the best corporate efforts has been in research and development of innovative models wherein projects have been piloted and their impact has been systematically recorded, assessed and scaled up.
The other indirect modes of intervention which corporates have opted for includes institution-building. Institutions like Azim Premji University which trains professionals for a career in education and in the development sector have been set up as a corporate effort and is strengthening school education.
The indirect intervention mode recommended by CSR strategists include collaboration with other stakeholders which are brought together by the company taking the initiative to put in effect a coalition that enables knowledge sharing. The organizations with expertise in building learning environments in different scenarios are acutely helpful for corporates to spend fruitfully on education.
Another indirect mode of CSR investment in school education is the collaboration with NGOs and development sector organizations having expertise in their field of school education. To broaden the impact of CSR, institutions like Socio-Economic Development Foundation (SEDF) of FICCI acts as the advisory organization to help corporates choose suitable development sector partners.
Streamlined CSR spending strategies in school education
CSR interventionists have started taking a realistic view of the timelines of the projects. The educational quality improvement is a gradual process, unlike infrastructure development. While forming their CSR approaches, companies hold on to a long-term view with mid-term objectives.
The other practice which is gaining currency in CSR educational intervention is the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of inputs and short and long-term outputs.
Even though the corporate spending in school education is relatively modest, these developments give us reason to believe that if done strategically, CSR will catalyze the development in schooling by facilitating innovations which are impressive enough to move the state to commission them.
PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP (PPP) SCHOOLS
Complementing school education has found an effective way in the form of Public Private Partnership (PPP) schools. The term ‘Public-private partnership schools’ implies that the ownership of the institution is public and school operations have been privatized. PPP schools are institutional models which have been adopted from countries where they have shown great promise as far as improving education infrastructure is concerned. The concept has its value in the idea that inherent efficiency of the private functioning will rejuvenate the ailing government schools. These schools can become quality schools and leading examples propagating the efficient ways of school administration.
It has been noted that the infrastructure of government schools ends up becoming surplus as a preference for private schools limits the number of students in the government schools. In urban areas, were private schooling has proliferated owing to its superior quality, the situation of unused infrastructure in government schools has become particularly pronounced. This presents a scenario where PPP schools can come in as a change maker.
The Education Alliance, a relatively young organization advice the government in favor of PPP by tabling their design and execution strategy and in collaboration with state agencies they come up with quality assurance mechanisms. Presently, the CSR arm of corporate groups supports quality education through a PPP model. A trio exemplifying the collaboration of corporate, civil society organization and the government institutions has been made in several cases.
The trio of corporate, civil society organization and government has taken up six municipal schools operating the schools, paying salaries of teachers etc. and selected a suitable education foundation as knowledge resource partner. The role of the government agencies come in with the municipal corporation providing the infrastructure, books and stationery, mid-day meals. The knowledge foundation trains teachers and prepares school leadership. In the mentioned example, the corporate arm supports foundation conduct a student progress assessment test termed national ASSET test. The CSR effort in education is exceptionally rewarded when Educational Quality Foundation of India by “Whole School Award”.
We conclude that spending on education is definitely a promising option for corporates as far as CSR fund allocation is concerned. The shift in corporate philanthropy towards school education suggests that this fact is dawning upon enterprises. The need is for expert agencies like School Serv which can aid corporate groups to go about their CSR spending with their hands-on experience in establishing and managing K-12 schools. it is an imperative for the aiding ‘school lifecycle organization’, like School Serv to command expertise in the field of executing school improvement projects for CSR spending to be more meaningful and sustainable.
Posted on July 10, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) contributions has been mandated by Government of India for all companies meeting specified financial thresholds. Certain areas of socioeconomic development have been specified as well, school education being one of them.
According to Section 135 of Companies Act 2013, Every company having net worth of rupees five hundred crores or more, or turnover of rupees one thousand crores or more or a net profit of 5 Crore or more during the financial year, shall ensure that the company spends, in every financial year, at least two percent of the average net profits of the three immediately preceding financial years on CSR activities. With the Companies Act, 2013 came into effect, the involvement of the companies in school education through CSR has changed both qualitatively and quantitatively.
School education – a case of changing nature of corporate philanthropy
Current trends of philanthropy in the corporate sector indicate that school education is receiving exceptional interest. Corporate leaders who have come to realize that resources spent on school education are bound to impact social equity are diverting CSR budgets to improve the quality of school education.
Customarily, CSR funds in education have been spent on improving the basic infrastructure and amenities. However, in the absence of continued maintenance, it proved to be only a cosmetic change at best. Further, the outcome is marred by inefficient, stereotypical use of assets resulting in stagnation. But there is an apparent change in the corporate spending scenario in the improvement of school education. This change is visible on several fronts including R&D for efficiency enhancement, application of technology and training of school leaders.
As the corporations realize the importance of educational equity in the establishment of a sustainable economy they are proactively aiding the implementation of the Right to Education Act. With the change in the outlook platforms for collaboration emerged for an exchange of ideas and knowledge sharing. Consequently, the role of corporates in K-12 education sector progressed from granting and funding to research, advocacy and facilitation of systemic change.
For corporate initiatives to be consequential, an understanding of India’s education landscape is a must. To this end, several fact-finding studies have been funded by enterprises. The findings of these studies pinpoint the areas that require special attention in CSR outlay including quality and adequacy of teachers and school leaders, assessment of student achievement, measurement of the impact of new educational policies and use of technology in optimizing teaching-learning outcomes.
The changing outlook of stakeholders underlays the principle that CSR budgeting for education should shift focus from inputs and outlays to outcomes and impact.
CSR spending for stimulation of innovation and improvement of education
Corporate intervention for maximum impact on school education also includes the adoption of best practices in education, bringing tested processes to scale and development of an environment conducive for innovation with accountability. An environment free from bureaucratic friction enables the stakeholders to conceive, test and assess innovations.
A sister organization of Pratham, ASER center started releasing annual surveys beginning 2000s about the scholastic merit of Indian students, the survey became most quoted and significantly reliable student assessment tool used in India. Its inherent value made certain state governments adopt its indicators in assessing the impact of school education reforms of the state.
Other corporate assisted projects whose innovation has been upscaled pertain to the training for school leaders. Under this project, the administrative practice wherein principals of schools in India are commissioned to work as administrators without any formal training compromising the education ecology of the school, was selected for intervention. The significance of the role of heads of the school is reflected in several pieces of research one of which states that learning outcomes are altered by 25% depending upon the effectiveness of the school leadership. The school leader-training model that turned out to be exceptionally impactful was initially tested in the state of Rajasthan and eventually in 1000 plus schools in 3 states.
Prospective influences of corporate spending on school education
While 97% enrolment in grade 1 has been achieved, only 35% of the 355 million children in India reach grade 12. Private schools are saving the day by imparting quality education and their role can be optimized in a knowledge economy with the assistance of CSR backed initiatives. Despite the fact that the private schools cater to 40% of the total students, policies made by the state does not consider their position and practically undermine them like what happened after RTE quota enforcement to some very good affordable schools. CSR spending can help to bring about a change of state of affairs through research and advocacy and make easier for schools in India to operate and upgrade.
Experts operating in the K-12 sector in India can make it easier for corporates to strategize their CSR spending in school education arena. The government of J&K, Wort & Tat are cases, where School Serv has assisted to bring a systemic change in housing children in the safe, caring environment and educating them for socioeconomic progress.
Posted on July 10, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu
School education has witnessed renewed interest amongst parent community in 21st Century. The effort and research invested into designing the curriculum of primary classes reflect that amply. With the redefinition, school education started an undercurrent of psychological change in children. The reasons for and implications of which we will try to analyze.
The cultural context of the emphasis on excellence
Generation Z or the Millennials have inherited a globalized digital world, they are born in the era of information and global interdependence. And the era is sustained by knowledge economies which needs bright minds in exceptionally large numbers. This situation gives rise to a culture where excellence becomes the norm and average is marginalized, and this is regardless of which part of the world you live in.
School education scenario in India presents a case of contradiction. Figures show that despite of 97 % enrollment in primary education just 32% reach grade XII or pre-university level. This illustrates the limitation of a developing nation where priorities of the state get misplaced. On the other hand, there are over achievers from premium private schools some of which follow an international curriculum. These children are very likely the future leaders of several different sectors of the economy.
The average lot, which is the largest among all, become supporters in the economy and their role keeps getting shuffled depending upon the discretion of the leaders. One is all too familiar with all engineering streams students converging into software and IT as the leaders drove the economy that way. The trend will surely change and other fields will gain prominence among others. The point is that the incentive of academic brilliance is so phenomenal that it practically becomes the goal of life and that comes with immense mental and psychological investment in academics. We surely get innovators and experts that take the society ahead but there is the flip side, the average students get subjected to complexes and lose their potential to contribute to the society as they think or are made to think that their potentials are irrelevant. The worse scenario turns them against society or themselves. We deduce that there is a strong psychological cultural influence of the current academic scenario on children and parents.
The pressure to excel begins in early childhood education where the pressure of studies and the span of the syllabus grows quite fast. The focus on skill is outweighed by the focus on being a top-notch student. With the advent of IB and Cambridge syllabi, focus on language acquisition has risen and is now being adopted in Indian curriculums schools too. In fact, language acquisition presents an interesting case by itself. Researches conducted by the linguists’ state that the second language, if acquired before the age of 6 loses the effect of mother tongue accent. The adolescents with accented English across India remain conscious of it and the psychological impact of this verbalization complex impacts communication and confidence. Now as we are witnessing that time of learning a foreign language at school level has arrived so has the pressure of learning a third language in school children. Children obviously work harder than their counterparts to acquire these outstanding skills at the expense of ordinary age-appropriate activities.
The psychological shift which such cultural changes entail manifest in direct and implicit ways. The studies have been conducted by several agencies including those sponsored by WHO and UNESCO to assess the psychological impact of academic burden in formative years. The cases of psychological disorders including depression, psychosomatic disorders, late symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder, Internet addiction, eating disorders, generalized anxiety and social withdrawal. It is not an individual issue and cannot be seen like that, it is a cultural question to be resolved by matching academic requirement with commensurate developments in pedagogy and individualized learning besides the availability of special educators. Academic counseling is indispensable in schools for quite some time now although the majority of schools do not make it available.
It is not new for India that education and academics are a focal point of psychological stress in children. However, the intensity has been on the rise progressively through the years and social recreation opportunities have declined. Parental pressure for academic excellence is also growing steadily. Sociological studies reveal that peer pressure is one of the major stressors for children in North America and other countries but that’s not the case in India where it’s parental pressure. It is also shown by the studies that school children, especially girls, are less stressed by competition than by the parental expectation in school exams.
At some point in this discussion, the grim reminder unavoidably arrives which is that India is among the leaders among countries in adolescent suicide. Statistics show that indebted farmers from areas with poor monsoons were most at risk of self-harm. A 2014 study concludes that educated youth from urban educated families are increasingly prone to suicide. This reflects the absence of the skill of stress management development of which in adolescence should be assisted by schools. If we look at the figures for the year of the same study i.e. 2014, we find that 2,471 students committed suicide in 2013-14 subsequent to the failure in school exams.
It is to be noted that the exams in question were school certificate exams and not competitive exams which again testifies that competition is not as big a stressor as parental pressure for academic excellence. The other factor that aggravates the stress of studies is that the student is forced to study what he or she is not interested in. Among the states, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh are reported to have this problem in higher degrees. It cannot be overemphasized that schools, right from the pre-schooling stage, must take up methods of education that inculcates self-esteem in children and self-discovery. It is the need of the hour to sincerely adopt pedagogical methods like Montessori and Multiple Intelligence to bring about the welcome change.
Curriculums and Child Psychology
A serious limitation of the Indian Education system is the absence of any mechanism to recognize and deal with learning disabilities in school children including dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. The ICSE board has recently mooted a proposal which recommends consideration for children with proven learning disabilities. The education boards that Indian schools subscribe to –CBSE, ICSE, IB, IGCSE all have their curriculum designed for all-round development of children. If curricula are put into effect which is possible through better teacher training and school leadership the psychological issues connected with academics can be mitigated.
In a very positive development, CBSE has recently made sports and physical education imperative so as to bring them at par with academics in schools. It is proven that sports have properties that aid healthy psychological development and social interaction hence are distressing and rejuvenating.
Co-curricular and extra-curricular activities which include dance, music, arts etc. are excellent psychological developmental aids for school children and must be encouraged by the school management. Schools must have the proper facilities and staff to let students pursue these activities which stimulate creativity.
Schools must live up to the claim they make about preparing children for life and equip their teachers to take initiative in counseling parents about the need for balanced childhood development for successful personality development.
It has been repeated in different words that academic growth of an entire generation or even a class of students is not sustainable if personality development is neglected. The schools must prepare themselves for the individual needs of students and counsel parents on the needs of a healthy state of mind for scholastic performance.
Posted on December 20, 2017 | by Vinod Kakumanu
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Posted on December 20, 2017 | by Vinod Kakumanu
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Posted on December 20, 2017 | by Vinod Kakumanu
Many school promoters are finding it difficult to enroll required number of students. This is in fact, one of the biggest challenge school promoters are experiencing when they launch a new school or trying to sustain an established school. Creating the best infrastructure, putting up hoardings and hiring the best resources is not helping yield the required number of admissions.
The situation may vary for a new school and an established school, Listing three important aspects that impact admissions –
Create a vision for the school, determine the positioning strategy, Establish a brand campaign to educate, engage and influence parents/student community. create a budget for the brand campaign and assign necessary funds. We suggest to run the brand campaign untill the desired admission goals are achieved and reduce / increase the campaign frequency basis the outcomes.
Ensure you are not compromising on the brand position, For example brand positioning that works for an affordable school may not work for an International School. We observed internal branding is often ignored and brand position is compromised.
The success of the brand campaign depends on the given situation. Measure monthly, the outcomes based on the awareness created in the target market, trust with parent community, reputation and increasing trend in quality of incoming inquiry’s.
Awards and accolades add value to the brand repute.
2. Communication (Marketing)
Determine the catchment area, target segment and unique selling points. Define a communication strategy, select media and create the appropriate content specific to a media. Various communication media are available – outdoor, indoor, digital, social, web, TV, etc.
Define a budget for the communications campaign, assign necessary funds for the required duration. The duration depends on the type of schooling you are offering.
Measure the success of the communications campaign on a monthly basis based on the number of incoming inquiry’s, their quality and determine what media is working for you. An increasing trend in the incoming inquiry’s is desired.
Marketing to an unwanted segment, catchment area and spending on an unwanted media are the most common mistakes we observed. Avoid spending on a media which is not giving quality inquiry’s, reassign budgets to an appropriate media.
3. Admissions (Sales)
The number inquiry’s you are able to convert into an admission, play a vital role in the success of a school. The more admissions, the more success. You have the necessary funds to continue to sustain operations of the school and realize your dream of education more and more children.
Most of the time brand, marketing / communications strategy’s work very well. Parents walk-in to the school, but does not admit their children in the school. Reasons could be many, listing the most common reasons for your reference –
An increasing trend in the number of admission is desired. You need to ensure that the team handling admissions process are trained to sell your school programs and efficiently handle objections raised by parents.
Posted on December 9, 2017 | by Vinod Kakumanu
School Serv, an enterprise that has grown to be a leading K-12 School Lifecycle services company is an idea of change brought to life. It embodies an ambition of reimagining education by bringing school services expertise close to educationists. The need for founding an agency that can bridge the gap between the learned and the learner, between the result and the potential, dawned upon its founder Vinod Kakumanu when he navigated through his own academic journey and stepped into the real life.
Reflecting on the questions like what part of him as a person is informed by school education? What dimensions of life did school education initiate him into and what avenues could have remained unexplored? Which potentials of his fellow students remained unidentified? What are those factors that hamper original initiatives in education? What resources provided by the science of the time could have remained inaccessible to students and why? These personal meditations coupled with national facts shaped his vision. The vision came to life in the year 2009 in form of School Serv. A vision to help visionaries and leaders reform education.
It will be useful to share our perspective here. We are a nation of one of the world’s youngest population. To translate this opportunity into a developmental advantage, a school education that prepares the child for life in the modern world is fundamental. Our school education scenario leaves much to be desired however.
There are lots of studies that reflect on our school education standard. Some of the recent ones, national and international don’t paint any prettier picture. Program for Student Assessment or PISA tested the scholastic progress in a study of two Indian states finding it 109th, out of 110 countries. Another study done by Pratham, published in its Annual Status of Education Report, states that three-fourths of all students of class 3rd, half of class 5th students, and one-fourth of class 8th students cannot read text meant for class 2nd. We know that there is no denying that we are faced with a chronic problem. We find it quite an anomaly when we see that how good learners Indians prove to be when they emerge as internationally leading scientists, technocrats, business administrators, entrepreneurs, academicians, innovators, litterateurs and help create knowledge economies.
We have set out to play our part in remedying that. With an array of planners, expert academicians, and subject matter experts, we have reassured educationists who want to venture out to become eduprenurs but are deterred by the complexity in starting a school and bureaucratic hassles they come across in founding and operating a school. We have kept our promise by supporting their vision with comprehensive school consulting services.
Along with school promoters, we started building schools on different scales and began operating them. We, in all cases, made a point to design perfect learning spaces equipped with most suitable infrastructure. We facilitated it all, including school architecture, teachers, school consultants, administrators; curriculum design leaving nothing substandard or unplanned. And so we built, and continue to build, opportunities both for students and teachers and we are helping our schools to succeed and sustain throughout.
One only has to take a look at School Serv’s realized projects with highly defined educational environments to know what distinguishes us from others as a comprehensive K-12 school lifecycle services provider.