“What really helped me and I feel for the country is that it has aligned everybody,” says Amol Arora, MD of Shemrock & Shemford Group of Schools, in an Interview with Pratik Ghosh, Content Writer, ArdorComm Media Group at the ‘New Normal – Education Leadership Summit & Awards 2023’ #ELSANewDelhi #ELSAGurugram
How are you feeling to witness the New Normal Education Leadership Summit and Award in Delhi?
First of all, thank you for inviting me here, and I’m really happy to be here. It’s an opportunity for me to give back to the community by sharing what I’ve been doing in my schools. I think it’s also a time well spent because I’m not only sharing but also learning a lot. There are so many amazing speakers and a lot of industry presentations where it helps you learn and grow as an individual. It’ll surely help my schools, and of course, you meet your fellow educators. I think socialization is even more important, and we’ve realized how important those social friendships are, especially after two years of COVID. Last year, your conference was all about masks and everything, and today, it’s so nice and relaxing. I was looking forward to meeting everybody, and everyone from the industry is over here today, so brilliant work done there. And of course, in terms of your return on investment of time, I think the biggest one for me was that you guys have shortlisted some amazing vendors here. You have shortlisted some great products for schools and colleges as well. The reason why I came here was that in a short period of time I can just find out partners that I feel are right for my school. I don’t want to spend two hours with each company evaluating what is good and bad. Also, there are things that I was not even aware existed. I mean, you can search for something on Google, I can Google it, but there are things I don’t even know existed. So that’s the best thing that you are getting really updated with things, and I think it’s very, very important for educators to take time out for these summits. I think everyone should come here because you’ll never be free in the school. So please take this one day out to learn, refresh yourself, and I’m sure that will give you so much momentum for at least the next few months. It’s a day very well spent for me. I think it’s one of the best investments of my time.
How are you implementing NEP in your chain of schools?
The NEP is a vision document. It’s not a policy document. It’s not something that progressive schools have not seen before. So, it’s something that I think we’ve already been doing, and everyone’s working on the same lines anyways. So, this is nothing but an outlining the advantage that NEP has given us for a school chain. We were already doing this for many years. What really helped me and I feel for the country is that it has aligned everybody. Now everybody is saying NEP is the way forward, so now when it comes to hiring teachers, hiring team members, we are all aligned as a country. Otherwise, I have a vision for my schools and what I want, which is that we want you to learn while having fun. They learn by hands-on learning. You have to use multiple ways of teaching – visual, auditory, kinesthetics learners. So, we’re doing all that, but then you get a teacher who doesn’t understand this thing, not aware of this, maybe a school principal who’s not aligned with what you want. She has her own philosophy here. But now because of NEP, the whole country is aligned, and I think that’s where the real value as this document has come. Now it comes to implementation. Governments have always been poor in implementing policies, and that’s what we have to understand that this is what we have to work with. But I think that’s a brilliant document, very well drafted. How well it could implementation, in terms of there are schools where there’s one teacher for class one to eight, only one teacher teaching all subjects, right? So, as a country, we have bigger problems than the NEP will solve. But I think it’s a step in the right direction. I really appreciate this document. I think alignment is the biggest thing that has happened for, for me, and when I’m hiring, I can see everybody’s on the same page. Otherwise, it was a challenge to orient them to my vision.
How does teacher training play an important role in this?
I think teacher training has always been important, and I think a lot of people underestimate the value of teacher training because it comes down to, who pays for that good quality training. One is just training for the sake of training. If you talk about genuine teacher training, I think a lot of entrepreneurs, school leaders tend to avoid investing in that. Why should I pay? Let the teacher pay. The teacher says, why should I? So, I think we all have to understand that ultimately, tools, technology, gadgets, buildings, what matters is what’s happening in the classroom. And a good teacher, motivated, inspired, well-aware of teaching techniques, which are low-cost teaching techniques, can do a much better job than the teachers sitting in an air-conditioned school, everything five-star, smart board, everything, and she has no idea what to actually do. And how will this work? It is going to happen through training. So, training is an investment, which I really feel sad that no one really values that. And I think that is very, very important. Although if I can be a bit positive on this, but because of COVID, I think it was a big shake-up for everybody that we need to change. And then everybody was invested online. So, now that openness to learning has changed. Teachers realize that they may not have to depend on training if they want to survive as a professional. So now, I’m seeing this change where teachers are saying, “I’ll learn somewhere. I’ll figure this out as well.” So, I think learners taking charge of their own learning is also happening. I’m seeing that that’s a positive step. They’re not dependent on teacher training programs. Although I have seen, even from the intent of leaders, doing formalities, even teachers also, sitting for the training just for the certificate. They focus more on certification than learning and I think it’s sad but the changes are happening as and when people get a shock like COVID did. People will change. So, I think, technology is going to be a big enabler of this change in the future.
You have been guiding and supporting us since the inception of the company, any message for ArdorComm Media on its 2nd anniversary?
You guys have absolutely been rocking. I mean, it never felt like I was supporting a startup because of the wealth of experience that Chandan and Ashish brought to the table, having been in the sector for so long, it was just natural that they have supported us. In terms of whenever I could help them in any way, we’ve done that, been there. Wherever they’ve called, we’ve been there. So, congratulations on this big achievement. You do not look like a startup at all. You look like somebody who’s a very well-run organization, very well-organized, very well, the marketing, the reach that you have, you have everything. And so, I think it’s something brilliant that you’ve already achieved in a short period of time. The way your visibility is, and the team has done a great job in terms of your social media visibility, in terms of the industry visibility. So, you’ve leveraged the physical relationships and the digital world very well. And I’m sure you’re going to have a big impact, and I thank you from the industry’s point of view for getting us all together. As a sector, I would want you to be sustainable, to be profitable, to grow, and that your reach is not only maybe Delhi, smaller towns in the future. I would want that you are so focused in education that you’ll be reaching out to small towns where they really strive for this kind of interactions. We are fortunate in Delhi to get this. So, we really need you. The industry needs you. The country needs you. So, keep up the good work. Congratulations on this milestone. It’s a small one for now. I see you going a long way forward. So, this is just you opening your account, now you have to make centuries.