Running a world class residential school in a Tier II city of India is not an easy task. To dig deeper and get insights on how he has made it possible, we invited Mr. Amith Bajla, Founder of Taurian World School, a world-class co-educational international residential School.
Amith Bajla is a young social entrepreneur. At an early age of 35, he has established a world-class co-educational international residential School – Taurian World School - in the fast developing city of Ranchi. An alumnus of the London School of Economics, Amith’s vision is to establish 100 schools across India with the objective of nurturing global citizens of tomorrow.
Watch the interview video or read the transcript below.
What’s your vision for chain of schools you are planning in India? How’s that vision aligned to the 21st century needs for students?
North East of India, especially UP, Bihar , Jharkand and West Bengal have not really attracted private investments for primary and secondary education, because of which u see student migrating to Delhi, Dehradun or South India. Our vision is capping that need, as we aim to build a chain of international schools. We started our first with a school in Ranchi and our plan is to have in each state one large format boarding school which will act as a hub and we will leverage and reputation of these schools and opening smaller day schools in each district. I think we have had a fairly good run and the time has come we approach our next target of opening day schools in each district in Jharkand.
And when I talk about vision’s alignment to 21st century needs, we at Taurian treat students as a world citizens and towards that we have world-class faculty from 6-7 countries which adds a lot to the student development. I believe IT will play a very important role in management as well as learning in schools in achieving it; as the use of IT is making education more effective, accessible and cost-effective. From day 1, our schools are IT equipped with Smartboards, English Labs, Math Labs, Computer Labs to help kids get a feel of what it is going to be out there. All our future schools will also embrace this fact whenever and wherever we plan a new school. I do understand a lot of training has to be given to teachers and staff on the use of technologies for them to be convinced about its use, benefits and to make the most of it, but we have already started doing it effectively.
What are some of the prestigious awards and recognition Taurian has received in the last few years?
We have a passionate team; I am very happy with them and proud of them. The entire team has worked hard from day 1 and it has been appreciated by various forums. Taurian World School in Ranchi has consecutively for 5 years received the "Best School in Jharkand" award. Recently we also got the “Best International School” award by British Council, this is a project based award whose criteria is how much of internationalization and diversity are you bringing into the school in ways of learning and teaching.
What are your views on the changing landscape of the residential schools in India? What are some of the challenges unique to boarding schools?
Just out of experience from our schools and also from some others in same space, we see that the enrolment of girl child is not very good in boarding/residential schools. I am interested to set up an all-girls boarding school in Ranchi as there are hardly any all-girls residential school in eastern belt of India. I have spoken to parents in the region, the fact is travelling from Ranchi to a school in Dehradun is not an easy task and also an expensive affair.
Boarding schools have been the ethos of education since early years. It is not a new concept, but boarding schools have evolved. Boarding schools have become much more holistic and diverse. You might have students and teachers from India or different parts of Asia and the world; so boarding schools have become much more international in terms of student and teacher recruitment.
I am an advocate of the boarding format as this really helps the child to shape up holistically. The years spent in school is cherished by kids, in fact we have students calling to visit even after passing out which makes us happy as a team.
To talk about challenges I would say it is totally a "Different World". Running a boarding school is like running a household with 400-500 kids. It is a full time 24x7 job, a very responsible job; you have to be alert and take care of various verticals in the school from Sports to Music to Arts to basic infrastructure. Maintaining a school spread over 55 acres is not easy at all. The entire scale and complexity of operation changes, it takes years to understand all challenges so boarding school is a different world. The staff must be passionate and committed.
What according to you should be the role of technology in schools?
You cannot avoid technology in schools anymore. To give you an example, in our region 20-25% parents didn’t use emails so we had to send paper based notices to them but technology has helped us to move on to no paper-based notices.
Information dissemination is now faster.
School has also implemented an ERP system for parents to see in a graphical format and dashboard what students are doing, their accounts, fee, lesson plans, activities, grades etc. Technology plays a very important role even in the management of school, including the school parent relationship.
Technology in imparting education has also played a crucial role; we have embraced that through specialized labs with assessments being done in real time. There is newness in the ways a child is taught which is exciting for the child as well as staff. You can use tons of videos on YouTube, Khan Academy, TED Talks to teach and inspire both students and the teachers. We also use Skype for interaction with classrooms globally.
We encourage our kids to have their own time on the internet as well to explore the wealth of information. We understand that a child should be taught not what to think but “How to think” to understand that information is no more power but to the ability to make sense from it is most important.
What/Who motivates you? Any thought leader(s) which you follow for success?
What motivates me the most is the challenge ahead and opporutnities I see. I feel there is a huge gap in our education system and I want to make a difference. Yes I do get influenced from a lot of people who have walked that extra mile but the kids I see everyday developing into great individuals is what motivates me the most.
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