Peepul CEO Kruti Bharucha On The Need For Diverse Education For The Diverse Students Of India
- IWB Post
- April 9, 2018
With over 19 years’ experience in various leadership and management roles in education, management consulting and advisory, Kruti Bharucha is now the CEO of Peepul. The organization Peepul is registered in India as Absolute Return for Kids – an international organization, headquartered in London, whose purpose is to transform children’s lives.
ARK India’s interventions are focused on improving the quality of education provided and available to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. She talks about passion for ensuring quality education to children, where Peepul works together with Delhi’s government schools to bring world-class education to their students. Kruti has brought significant improvement in learning outcomes in government schools. Excerpts from a conversation with her:
Could you start by talking about Peepul and what is it exactly?
Peepul is a nonprofit organization working in the field of education. We do have a network of schools across India. Our mission is to deliver high-quality education, especially to those who do not have good family resources that would give them access to education. So we collaborate and work in partnership with government schools to address the problems they are facing and make the system successful for them.
Since you have been associated with government schools, what are some of the shortcomings in the current education system in general in India?
Often times the main reason is that the teachers haven’t received proper classroom training, teaching mechanisms, curriculum, delivery methods, etc. Also, there are not many incentives within the system to encourage good teaching behavior. They spend 10-15 years in a system which does not have any accountability, they end up losing interest in the act of teaching itself. Another thing in government schools especially is that the teachers end up burdening themselves with the administration work and often times ignore the classroom. So the teachers are not able to track the progress that their students are making.
A lot of teachers complain about having too many children in the class. What is your take on this?
The Right To Education norm perfectly lays out what the student-teacher ratio should be. If a teacher works with 30-35 students in a class, she can manage the class as a whole as well as provide individual attention. If teachers are not able to use their resources efficiently, that’s when their problems arise. Also, many government schools do not have enough students. So the teachers try to combine the different sections and grades, which will obviously make the work tedious for the teachers. The way to tackle this issue is to ensure that the schools follow the RTE norms with respect to teacher allocation, and the teachers are skilled enough to use the educational resources efficiently.
Could you elaborate on the kind of programs undertaken at Peepul aimed at solving the education crisis in India?
We aim to demonstrate what excellence looks like through our works. People come with textbook strategies to run an educational institution, but often times fail – majorly because they try to streamline the process for all the students, ignoring that fact that the needs of every student are unique and different. The students in India are so diverse that the way of teaching them should also be. So what we are trying to do through our programs is to demonstrate what excellence in education is. For instance, we have regular teacher training programs at our schools, we organize effective parent-teacher meetings, make efforts to increase our enrollments, etc. So with our style of working, we aim to set the bar high, so others can also replicate and scale it.
While we are on the topic of problems in the education system, what do you think is the state of girl child education in India?
Some organizations specifically work on getting girls back into the classroom. It would be unfair to give a general answer to this question because there are definitely some states who are invested heavily in the cause of girl child education, while some are not. Another thing is that just getting them to school is not enough, it has to be ensured that quality education is imparted and she is able to learn. Another thing is to ensure that the teachers are not discriminating in class. We have definitely worked at achieving a lot of progress concerning girl education, but we do have a long way to go.
Can you let us know what prompted the shift for you from working in the finance sector to being involved in the education sector?
I grew up in the US, and every year I used to come back to India to visit my grandparents. Over the years what stuck with me is the levels of inequality and also the fact that there is not much dignity of labor. What I realized is that the root cause of this is that our education system isn’t refined enough to impart quality education. So I had a dream that I wanted to do something substantial in this field in India. But after graduation, my career took a different path. During my previous job, I had a clear defining moment, where I thought long and hard about what I really wanted to do with my career, considering that I wanted to make my dream come true too. And one thing led to another – I left my job, found the right organization in education and here I am now!
So to conclude, what is your vision for India’s education system in the next 10 years?
I want to be able to achieve the dream of providing quality education to every child – an inclusive education, which is not happening at the moment. Every child should be learning in whichever schooling system he is in. Fundamentally, I hope that we are able to develop our education system so that every child is able to achieve his/her full potential. We need to increase the accountability of the system and continually upgrade ourselves concerning the quality of education.