For quite a while now, education is seen as something that takes you from point A to point B, rather than something that will shape you to be citizens of the world. Nobody teaches us how to spot a scam, properly talk to a person from different background, build an organization, raise money, conserve the environment, talk someone out of a difficult phase of their life or figure out what is truly important to oneself. It is no secret that not knowing how to do these things is what challenges the next generation, and ours, not whether they know algebra or can analyze literature.
When Sandeep Goenka, founder trustee of the C P Goenka Group Schools, was then actively looking to diversify from his family business, which was into manufacturing, he looked around and realized that there was no real learning environment for young children, where they could be properly shaped to be holistic individuals. To realize his vision of a wholesome education plan for the youth of India, he endeavoured to offer children a learning cycle that begins and ends with his institutions. His wife, Archana Goenka resonated his thoughts, and they began researching and brainstorming with experts.
Starting off with 35 students in 2000, Goenka Group Schools has tremendously upscaled and, over the years, owns 7 high schools and 9 pre-schools under the names C P Goenka International Schools, C P Goenka’s Spring Buds International Preschools, and Swami Vivekananda International Schools, with locations in Juhu, Oshiwara, Kandivali, Borivali, Dombivli, Gorai, Lamington Road, Thane, and Pune. C P Goenka Group Schools offer a complete schooling program inclusive of a high school facility whereas the ECube Global College offers graduation and post-graduation programs with an international association. Educating 20,000 young minds, the group offers ICSE, CBSE, CAIE and IB curriculums, effectively catering to the varied demands of parents and children. “We understand that there are parents who work in government sectors with frequent transfers. During such instances, it takes a great toll on the child to get adjusted with different schools and different curriculums. Which is why we decided to accommodate students from all walks. However, we ensure that just because they opt for different curriculums, we don’t compromise on the values and education we impart. The biggest advantage of our schools is that no matter what curriculum the child opts for, we have a pedagogy that imbibes all the best practices from the rest of the curriculums to give the best possible education for them. We ensure that our students get the best of all worlds,” says Archana Goenka, Founder Trustee, C P Goenka Group of Schools.
Mix and Match for Better Results
Archana reiterates her point on the best practices followed at Goenka Group Schools by pointing out the ‘Show and Tell’ program that is originally implemented for the PYP students but carried across all the schools under the Goenka umbrella. The program might seem a simple one, where young students come up to the stage and show any object of their choice and tell a few words about it. However, this activity is a huge confidence booster for young minds, not to mention the avalanche of information they get from their peers. Because it is coming from one of their own, it stays in their mind and they discuss it later.
Similarly, ‘My Delightful Moment’ is yet another activity, where students must come up to the stage and showcase their talent. It can be anywhere from drawing, dancing, singing to solving a Rubix cube, cooking, and doing headstands and somersaults. Through this activity, the school drives home the thought that bookish knowledge is not the only parameter to label a person ‘talented’. This activity also successfully breaks stereotypes and age-old archaic gender rules. The management understands that while these are small steps, several such small steps combine over the years to actualize their vision—Raise well-rounded individuals with a global outlook, inclusive of gender and communities.
One testament to the inclusivity trait that its weaved into the school’s DNA is when the 9th-grade girls, taking part in the running race, broke all rules to help a specially-abled child compete with them, crossing the finishing line together. These girls upheld the school’s idea that it is not always about winning, but about the race and how we treat each other in the race. Especially at C P Goenka International School, where the IB curriculum is followed, the management has in place a buddy system where a student weak in a particular subject but bright in another is paired with another student who is bright in the subject that their ‘buddy’ is weak in.
This not only gives room for healthy friendships but also stresses the idea that no one is bright in all facets of life, we need one another to advance as a team. “Our classroom activities are carefully crafted to build a solid character in our students and drive home the thought that it is not always about the marks. Success has to be redefined, and we are teaching our students to redefine it their own way,” says Archana. The school also provides a forum where ex-army officers take training classes for students to increase their resilience and shape a positive mindset. Named ‘Valour’, this activity has hugely impacted young minds, with several students fearlessly owning stage activities and even showing an interest to join the Indian Army.
How to Effectively Chart a Career Roadmap?
As per IB requirement, C P Goenka International School has an inhouse counsellor for its students. The counsellor and the school discuss with its students and carefully evaluate their various career options and then go backwards, charting out a detailed plan on how to get there. This helps the students to build an impressive resume as they now have a clear road map on how to proceed. Because the school starts this assessment from Grade 8, the children have ample time to hone their skills and systematically work towards their goals.
Commenting on the Industrial Revolution 4.0. Archana is of the opinion that although changes were slowly creeping up within school in India, and their relationship with technology, the pandemic significantly increased the tempo. She opines that technology has made it possible for us to have some sort of normalcy, thanks to various social media apps. Having said so, C P Goenka International School has always been a forerunner in introducing technology into classrooms. In 2006, when interactive classrooms where just an idea, the school was already incorporating it into classrooms, along with tablets.
“Everything has two sides. It all boils down to how and who wields it. Which is why it is imperative to raise young minds who know how to wield technology in the best possible way. For instance, we once showed our 11th-grade psychology students a live brain surgery. At the end of it, the children were so thrilled that they needn’t have to memorize from a book which part of the brain controls what as they could clearly remember it from their live class,” states Archana. Ensuring that social distancing and isolation does not affect the teaching-learning process, the school has from its inception insisted its teachers to use tools, tech or otherwise, to aid their teachings. Equipping children with 21st-century skills, the school houses an array of science laboratories and a 3 D Printer that they can utilize. The school also regularly holds a tech-fest for ‘coders’ as part of their learning program. Proud of the various independent activities that its students are engaging, the school takes special pride in Akshat, an IBDP student. He currently teaches ‘Coding’ to his school mates. While this goes into his resume as an extra-curricular activity, it also instils in him a sense of accountability and accomplishment.
A Step Above the Rest
What sets Goenka Schools apart from its peers is that the school management knows every student’s names and their background. They also have in place an environment where parents can freely walk into the principal’s room and discuss matters about their child. This makes the parents feel that they are heard instead of being told what to do. A healthy discussion between teachers and parents is required for the overall development of the child. The school hosts a MUN and a Junior MUN for pre-schoolers as well. The school also has in place a mentorship program where 5 students are assigned to a mentor who becomes the mentees sounding board.
The students can freely discuss personal and social issues with their mentor, giving the students a feeling that they are heard and acknowledged. Another factor that truly sets the school a notch above the rest is that they have a life skills training class. “How many of us know how to change a car tyre? How many of us know how to properly read electricity bills? It may seem unimportant now, but only if you know how much units you are using and how much each unit cost will you get a true understanding of conserving resources. We teach our students basic banking and how to be financially sound. We teach them a plethora of such skill sets that may seem trivial and irrelevant to the curriculum at hand but is quite necessary to shape a well-rounded individual. From folding clothes properly to making the bed we teach our students to inculcate good habits. Habits shape a human. Good habits effectively shape good humans. Isn’t a school where good humans with good habits must be raised?” asks Archana.
Armed with several note-worthy awards and an arsenal of creative programs that have proven to boost student success and a team of focused teachers, C P Goenka International School is treading surefooted on the road to provide the best education, uplifting the spirit of every child and not merely literacy through the best of the teachers.
Archana Goenka is the Founder Trustee of C P Goenka Group of Schools. Being a veteran in this industry, her understanding, creativity and endeavour to bring in a positive wave of transformation in the education system have been quite fruitful. She believes that schools are not just about textbooks and teachers but a world in itself. She has embraced opportunities to be innovative and entrepreneurial to ensure that her schools evolve into centres of excellence. Her schools balance the transmission of values from the past anticipating the needs of the future. She believes that there has been a quantum leap in the pattern of education, because of which educators are constantly on their toes to keep up with the modern-day academic mechanisms to serve the best to children. She has been an eminent speaker at various platforms like the Eldrok K-12 Summit and Global Triumph Foundation World Summit – Bangkok.