Started about eight decades back, S Chand today has evolved into one of the biggest domestic publishers of India. It publishes all types of education books, dealing primarily in three areas of school education, namely, primary, secondary and early learning. Himanshu Gupta, Managing Director of S Chand Group and third generation entrepreneur talks to Careers 360 about the changes being brought to school education by the education giant in India. Supporting the move to take education in digital format in schools, he says, “Despite all the reforms in the past, now is the time that we fight this phenomenon of giving mediocre education to our kids and step up to ensuring quality.” Given below are the excerpts of our conversation with him.
Careers360: Tell us about the journey of S Chand in the education sector.
Himanshu Gupta: S Chand is almost an 8 decades old company started by my grandfather. We have been primarily into books and now we are moving into the digital domain. At present we produce more than 12 thousand titles in a year, have more than 2,000 author relationships and have been listed on the stock exchange. We have acquired many publishers in our journey; starting with the acquisition of Vikas, Madhuban, then Saraswati House followed by a regional publisher called Chaya Prakishini in Bengal, then we acquired a company called Chetna publication and a BPIO earlier and now making a move to digitalisation of education.
We are leveraging a company called DS Digital which is working for the creation of smart schools, plus we have curriculum management programme called Milestone, which mixes both content and digital together with teacher training to become a complete curriculum partner to the schools. We feel that the future is digital for the students and we have to support that. Nuri Nori, a Korean pedagogy adapted for Indian students, is our first step forward to the early learning education domain. We believe in giving a child a complete 360 degree learning a holistic learning programme with a focus on quality. Quality remains our main focus that for the last 80 years.
Careers360: How important is to adopt digital technology for an education system?
Himanshu Gupta: We are quite an old company, over seven decades old. When you are around for this much time, there is very little that you have not seen. Earlier we were primarily into providing content through books and now we are moving towards digital. We feel that digital is the future and for anybody to fight it from happening would only harm us and our kids in the long-run. It’s important we start rethinking about our pedagogy. To help new era students take early-mover advantage, we are focussing on producing integrated learning methodology inculcating both traditional with digital elements of education, and also providing teacher training.
Careers360: You are sitting on 75 years of experience in Indian education space. How do think Indian school education system has changed since independence?
Himanshu Gupta: India’s school education system has gone through a lot of transformation during these years. When Gen X finished their schooling, the books were black and white, there wasn’t any multimedia content and let’s just not talk about internet. Students use to see videos and movies hardly once in three months. Now, the school education landscape has completely changed through the internet, increased data consumption, mobiles apps, etc. Today a child has limitless possibilities as to how he/she wants to use the available content to their advantage. Virtual content is helping students experience and learn. Furthermore, it’s also changing the way we test and assess kids. However, there are still many lacunae in India’s school education system. Our purpose of learning is still very much geared towards grades, jobs and competitive examination, which in turn is largely producing low-quality students lacking critical thinking skills. We need to work on that.
Careers360: What are some areas where our education system really need to improve?
Himanshu Gupta: We are more focussed on giving quantity education rather than quality education. Today we have the largest school going population with more than 70 million students going to schools and we have the largest number of schools in the world with more than 1.6 million schools. But the question remains are we able to give quality education to these students? We are not. Not only in government schools, but even among private schools there are a few schools imparting quality education. Despite all the reforms in the past, now is the time that we fight this phenomenon of giving mediocre education to our kids and step up to ensuring quality.
Careers360: Will the role of a teacher be eliminated in the digital age?
Himanshu Gupta: I don’t think anytime soon the role of a teacher will be eliminated either in India or anywhere in the world. A teacher is a facilitator, a guide and students’ go-to person who has the capacity to unriddle anything. We rather need to think in terms of how we can improve the role of a teacher and help them to teach better so the students can learn better.
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