Shift Happens: Keeping the Best of the Old and the New in Education

‘Shift happens’ is a video that most teachers and principals have watched at some point at a conference.

The video exposes the mindboggling rapid pace of change worldwide - the hundreds of children born every minute, the billions of users on social media, the alarming rate at which traditional jobs are disappearing and new ones taking its place. The general message is that it is impossible to predict opportunities and challenges 10 years from now and, as a result, schools should focus on equipping students with evergreen skill sets like critical thinking that will always remain relevant despite rapid change.

The few schools that manage to focus on long-term skills effectively are international schools that offer the IGCSE or IB curriculum – these exams themselves are already skill-based and require critical thinking to score well. These schools, however, are out of reach for most parents. On the other hand, CBSE and ICSE schools often struggle to bring in a focus on skills in an increasingly competitive environment where parents have a mostly short-term focus on exam scores and entrance tests.

This was the challenge that motivated a group of Ivy League alumni to launch the High Achievers Program – an invitation-only program for high achieving students in premium CBSE and ICSE schools to improve core skills.

“The High Achievers Program captures the essence of an international schooling experience and boils it down to a 15-day training program for high achieving students in CBSE and ICSE schools” says Shreya Nair, Program Director. “We wanted to create a level playing field. Most CBSE and ICSE schools in metros like Mumbai and Delhi already compete with the international schools for inquiries, international college admissions and so on. H.A.P gives these schools a chance to get on par with the international schools and be competitive not just locally but also internationally. Successfully completing H.A.P makes the student eligible for a 100% scholarship to an undergraduate program at Deakin University Australia.”

Successful offerings in this segment bring value to schools through partnerships. For example, H.A.P has partnered with a leading Australian university to offer full scholarships to its undergraduate programs to successful H.A.P students. To meet its objectives in the CBSE and ICSE segment, H.A.P has also partnered with Callido Learning – a provider of digital courses to international schools. “H.A.P’s collaboration with Callido is more than just to create a relevant program. It is about helping students become more confident as they face the future” says Ms. Nair. This allows the program to leverage resources that are quality-assured by Cambridge and are already being used in the top rung of international schools globally – like the GEMS World Academy (UAE), Dhirubhai Ambani International School (Mumbai), The Shri Ram School (Gurgaon) or The British School (Jakarta).

H.A.P requires students to work in teams (called ‘squads’) and undertake challenging projects guided by facilitators to develop in core areas like critical thinking and research skills. The program is aimed at students from Class 6 to 12.

While initiatives like H.A.P bring in a breath of fresh air into a segment that was previously limited to Model UN, robotics or drama, such programs however are not for everyone. H.A.P, for example, requires a host school to have a robust IT infrastructure and requires a minimum number of registrations to be launched. It also requires students to take a short assessment that qualifies the top five students in every school for full scholarships to the training program. To ensure quality, the program’s directors have also opted to keep it selective – only a handful of schools in Tier I metros receive invitations to participate every year.

With international curriculum schools rapidly becoming mainstream and the education segment becoming more competitive, it is good to see that CBSE and ICSE schools are taking critical thinking more seriously. This is a welcome move that serves students and parents well because, let’s face it – shift happens!

To learn more about the program, request for details here

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