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Democratising High-Quality Education
The pandemic induced rise of the edutech sector presents the opportunity to democratise high-quality education by taking the best of concepts and faculties to every student in the country
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In a virtual interaction with BW Businessworld, Pramath Raj Sinha, Founder and Chairman, Harappa Education talks about the core philosophy which drives his platform, what differentiates Harappa from other edutech platforms and the prospects and shortcomings of the edutech sector in India.
Sinha describes Harappa as the culmination of his life’s work. One of the key learnings that Sinha puts forward from his life is that “anyone can do anything.” “I’m trying to get people to understand that they have amazing potential and the only thing that they need beyond their dreams and aspirations is capability. These capabilities are something which I want to deliver to people at scale,” says Sinha.
Regardless of the sector we work in, there are certain core foundational skills that we need to succeed and thrive in life. Sinha says that alongside technical education one should also get educated about building these skills. At Harappa these skills are called the “thrive skills” as they have remained constant for centuries. These skills are characterised under five areas.
The first being the cognitive skills where our ability to interpret an unfamiliar situation is tested. Soft skills take the second spot which is about solving the problem after reading and interpreting it. The third is our social skills where we engage with people after developing a solution. This is further broken down to communication and collaboration which makes up the fourth skill.
The final skill is about leading oneself. In simple terms this means the skill to constantly keep growing, improving and enhancing oneself as a person. It revolves around idea of self-awareness and self-actualisation.
According to Sinha, these skills were in practice during the time of Harappa civilisation and they symbolise excellence and the foundation of our civilisation and hence the name for his platform.
Sinha says that what distinguishes Harappa from other Edutech players is that it is not an aggregator. “We are not a platform, we are our own institution and that is where our philosophy lies,” says Sinha.
He elaborates that some of the greatest education institutes around the world own the content and the professors who create it. The real outcome, according to Sinha, is driven by the fact that we create our content and then design, deliver, change, evolve and constantly evaluate where we need to improve to deliver the best.
Sinha further highlights how Harappa believes in democratising high quality education. He says that no student on any platform deserves to get B grade quality education as through this medium we can bring any faculty to any student.
“I want the child in Jalandhar to know Aristotle’s appeals because Aristotle’s appeals are taught at Harvard and they are very powerful. Our philosophy is that we want to bring the best of concepts, the best of faculty to everyone. There’s no pay premium to get better,” states Sinha.
Sinha describes the rise of Edutech as the birth of a great sector. The methods of teaching and learning online are just being born and every day, according to Sinha, there is something new and engaging. Sinha reiterates Harappa’s relentless pursuit to deliver the best possible outcomes through the online medium.
“The good thing about Edutech is that it has pushed the limits in a very positive way. People have quickly accepted it as a legitimate and effective medium which is here to stay.
I fundamentally believe we couldn’t have done greater service to the younger generation and to the cause of learning in this country because we have not been able to take the brick-and-mortar classroom and teacher to the last student in 75 years. The only way you are going to get to those people is through technology,” elaborates Sinha.
However, Sinha also puts forward some of the challenges for the sector and how it can be of real service for the masses. “We are feeding on people’s anxiety about outcomes, feeding on people’s anxiety that they are not getting quality and therefore are supplementing it with some course or content. I think the real service in Edutech will come when people, through it, get to know something better and develop those thrive skills.”
Sinha feels that unless the sector starts bringing such content in the most effective and affordable manner, people will not truly feel that impact of Edutech.