Going to school was always a fun experience, we all remember those early years, our first friends, our teachers, the games we played and the experiences we had, are immeasurable to us. On those leisurely evenings, we all like to reminisce about all the things we did during our school days. I remember reaching two hour before the school time just to meet my friends and play cricket, tell each other scary ghost stories, share our snacks. When we were young and life seems almost infinite, filled with all the possibilities. Those early experiences in school really did shape me in ways I never imagined. I’m sure you would feel the same way about it; you would have your own fascinating stories too. As I grew up in a small town in Southern India, I was getting education but it was moving to a metro city that made me realize, I had learnt very little about the world around me. I lacked the experience and confidence, most of my fellow students enrolled in this prestigious school possessed. At first I was in denial, could not understand what exactly had gone wrong, and how was I the odd one out. As time passed I slowly realized that it was not my fault in that situation, it was my school system back home that had failed to prepare me for the world. I took me a very long time to work to build the confidence and the mindset I needed to thrive in the world. When a child gets the encouragement and engagement from the school, even if it’s a child from the most remote corner of the world that child will develop the tools for success.
We all know very well the key role an education institution plays in our lives. Yet, we have let our school system stagnate, the policies in institutions today are almost the same as the ones we had for decades. How could this be the case? Our school system has not changed, while others around the world has made strides in knowledge application. A school is supposed to be an embodiment of how much a community values its children and the reality in schools today reflects a bleak picture. Solutions to world problems, whether it is political, social or economic are shaped at the doorsteps of educational institution. Hence it is vital that we start moulding children in our country to be free thinkers.
Most of the schools in the developed countries have designated school counsellors who specialise in looking after the emotional wellbeing of a child; they also offer advice and listen to grievances. It is truly sad that most of the schools still do not have student counsellors in the country. There may be many reasons why many schools in India and across Asia do not hire counsellors, sometimes the reasons is a strict budget and other times it because the administration find they are not important. We fail to understand why student counsellors are important, they are in a good positions to get student feedback, they understand all the issues faced by the students on a day to day basis and have the necessary authority to make changes to ensure students have a good experience in school. We need to do the same create a student feedback system, where students can address their grievances and propose changes that can better their experience in schools.
How do we go about creating a good feedback system?
I remember during school days not having a single individual in the faculty that I felt comfortable expressing my troubles; I was always scared of authority and always felt they would not understand me. You may agree that many students in this country face similar experiences during their school life; you may even know students who face similar problems today. If the issue is students have trouble talking to faculty, why don’t we create a platform that students can use to express their ideas and offer their feedback? We need to create a student feedback system, where children can give constructive feedback and ideas that propels a healthy student environment. The platform should also involve parents to get better insights while implementing better policies. A student feedback system creates the right conditions for children to grow and thrive. It will also institute with a strong vision often has a strong school ethos, that promotes change and fosters a thoughtful dialogue regarding issues that concern all of us.
What are the most important aspects to consider before for a student feedback system?
Many aspects have to be considered to ensure a school meets global standards. An approach has to focus on the holistic development of the child and also ensure a student has a good experience in the classroom and the campus. Schools help children articulate and channel their inner passion, acting as a catalyst that catapults a child towards a promising destiny. The emotional and academic climate provided by the school, motivates children to understanding the universe around them.
We have to focus on many different aspects like:
What are the key influences that determine the standard of student experience in schools? How do these factors shape the student experience? I’m often in debates with my friends and colleagues about how India falls short of most criterions despite being the largest producer of skilled labour with regards to STEM expertise. This is due to the lack of student-centric polices and reliable platforms for students to explore their passions. Great teachers, advanced labs, updated courses, leadership access and supportive and helpful teaching staff all play an important part in ensuring a student is given every opportunity to thrive.
- Engagement and development
What makes a good world leader or a humanitarian? Self-expression in its truest form can only be possible for individuals if they have had the opportunities to fully traverse to interesting method that helps them think critically and form a self of being. For this to happen, everyone needs to be involved, from parents, teachers, alumni and the administrative staff. You may have heard the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child”. Initiating social programs like parent-teacher engagement, experimental learning sessions, engaging children with special needs, career counselling, scholarship grants among others may go a long way in making sure a child has every opportunity to make their mark on this world.
Education and intuitions both have come a long way since last three decades. Traditionally children went to schools and colleges closest to their homes, but times have changed, children now travel across states to ensure they get a quality education and have a good learning experience. So, fundamentally infrastructure plays a major part, an in-depth research indicates that students living on-campus generally perform much better in their studies. Where many parents and students in the past may have compromised on this, we seldom see it happening today. To be considered a good school, infrastructure must include good classroom facilities, library, hostel, sports facilities, transportation, hygiene and sanitation. Good institutions must create a ‘happy space’ for students, shaping physical spaces to make them more attractive.
- Extra-curricular activities
All of us remember how taxing and stressful exams were, burning the midnight oil to ensure we get those good scores. In this country, we do pay a lot of emphasis on good scores and nothing else. We can only name a few schools that pay the same amount of emphasis on extra-curricular activities as they do to academia and that is where everything has gone terribly wrong in the India education system. Children today lack the basic social etiquettes that are vital to survive in this competitive world. Extra-curricular activities play an important role where children learn to be a part of the social fabric. They build a sense of community among students and help them adapt better. Creating clubs, activities, sports opportunity, society welfare activities, fests and events give students a better understanding of how to work as a team and learn the skills that are necessary to be world leader. Good schools need to get feedback from students about where the institutions is lacking and what are the ideal social programmes students would like to be implemented in their school? It would be a step towards preparing children for the world stage.
While we have understood the importance of STEM subjects and academia, the basic criteria has slipped through the cracks of the education system. As all of us remember from the first day of school, it has been a never ending saga of carrying heavy bags, doing our homework and studying for exams. Schools have so far failed to create ‘home away from home’ for students, creating an environment where they feel part of the fabric, a family. Educators need to work on going the extra mile to ensure students are happy during their studies at the school. Students should proudly say, ‘I study here’ and be able to recommend these schools to anyone.
Parents will always be worried about their child, whether it is regarding their child’s safety or their overall progress in school. A recent survey conducted in India indicated that one in every two children are victims of sexual abuse; child is sexually abused every 15 minutes, according to the latest government figures. Some of us have children enrolled in schools and some of us would someday be selecting schools for their little ones. With a rise in crime against students including sexual abuse and bullying is a serious concern for any parent. It has become more important than ever to ensure a student has a safe campus with the proper security infrastructure in place. Including parents in the debate will help both the children to feel safe and the educational institutions to make constructive changes from parent feedback.
If school wants to keep innovating and evolving its education models, it needs to get feedback from students, parents and promoters to ensure they are paying close attention to all the areas of improvement. It helps the educational institution to stay ahead of the fray and ensure their school is one of the best in the country. Maintaining a net promoter’s score helps schools maintain exceptionally high standards and keep working towards development in all aspects of institution. We all can agree that creating a good student feedback system is a sign of a healthy school which really cares about its students and works towards enhancing their experience. It would be a school with a mission that is focused on a holistic development and well-being of a child. Aristotle once said “Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity”, world-class schools are the ones that create an environment where children feel safe and plant the seeds which will enable them to learn all their lives.