Schools Are Preparing Kids For The India That No Longer Exists: Sandeep Rai, Founder and CEO, The Circle India
India stands at a crucial crossroads, armed with the world’s largest share of young people, approximately 254 million individuals below the age of 25. The future of this vibrant nation lies in capitalising on the potential of its youth, as it can unlock unprecedented growth for the country.
There are significant challenges that hinder the realisation of this potential, and one of the crucial ones is that 62% of children drop out before reaching the 10th grade, said Sandeep Rai, Founder and CEO, The Circle India.
To address this critical issue, The Circle India is working to transform the education landscape and prepare the young generation for the dynamic demands of the 21st-century workforce.
Sandeep Rai’s journey to founding The Circle India was deeply transformative.
Originally aspiring to become a doctor, he experienced a revelation just before graduation and decided to pursue a career in teaching instead.
Through his involvement with Teach For America, he taught in a government-run school in Washington, D.C., where he witnessed firsthand the transformative power of great leadership and quality education. These experiences formed the bedrock of his vision for The Circle India.
Reinventing the concept of schooling
“The Circle India’s fundamental belief is that the key to India’s growth lies in unlocking the potential of its young population,” said Rai.
To achieve this, the organisation has identified two primary areas of focus.
Rai said that, first and foremost, the team recognises the urgency of addressing the education gap faced by India’s low-income communities. Far too many children from these communities are being denied access to quality education, depriving them of opportunities to realise their full potential.
The second area of concern centres around the state of traditional schools in the country, he added.
Circle India believes these schools are still preparing children for an India that existed decades ago, failing to adapt to the rapidly changing workforce and skill requirements.
To address this issue, Rai aspires to reinvent the concept of schooling, creating a network of innovative schools and after-school programs nationwide. These institutions aim to equip children with the necessary skills and knowledge for success in the 21st-century job market.
To equip students with skills relevant to the contemporary job market, Rai emphasises three essential changes that schools must make.
According to Rai, the shift from teaching traditional 1963 skills, such as reading non-fiction texts and computational arithmetic, to fostering complex problem-solving, creativity, and cognitive abilities is paramount.
“We advocate for a fundamental evolution in teaching practices and challenge conventional notions of who should be a teacher,” Rai said.
Furthermore, the learning opportunities should extend beyond the school’s physical boundaries and be accessible to all, regardless of socio-economic background, he added.
Cater to the needs of the 21st century
To bring about tangible change, The Circle India has launched various initiatives, including establishing new schools and after-school programmes in cities across India, such as Kanpur, Jalalabad, Bangalore, Goa, Pune, and Delhi.
Rai said the organisation also incubates entrepreneurs aspiring to start schools or after-school programs.
“Our goal is to launch eight to ten new schools each year, creating a robust network that caters to the needs of India’s diverse population,” Rai said.
As per Rai, in addition to schools and after-school programs, The Circle India facilitates various workshops, experiments, labs, hackathons, and guest speaker sessions throughout the year.
Rai added that these experiences are open to anyone keen on understanding and contributing to the reinvention and redesigning of the education system.
Such transformative endeavours are not without challenges.
Finding the right people and securing sufficient resources pose significant obstacles. However, Sandeep Rai and his team understand that these challenges pale compared to those faced by children trapped in poverty, where access to resources and opportunities is severely limited.
Circle India remains unwavering in its commitment to reinventing education and creating a network of innovative schools and after-school programs that will positively transform the lives of children across the country.
By unlocking the potential of India’s young population, the organisation aspires to usher in a new era of growth, prosperity, and opportunities for all.
As they continue to make strides toward their vision, The Circle India sets a shining example of how dedicated individuals and organisations can shape the future of an entire nation by investing in its most valuable asset—the youth.
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