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The Khaitan School: Nurturing a Better Tomorrow for Students
In recent years, education has gone from being a privilege of the elite to being a right of every child. Though this has been a move in the right direction to ensure 100% literacy, government policy should have been progressive and outcome based rather than populist. Though the ‘Right to Education Act 2009’ had laudable intentions, the underlying political tone and agenda robbed it of its objectives which is amply visible in the likes of the ASER Report. Though India has solved the problem of access by ensuring over 98% enrollment at the Primary level, quality remains a huge challenge which is largely supplied by the private sector.
Over 45% children attend private schools whereas more than 75% of the 15 lac schools, are Government owned! This has led to a scarcity of quality schools and the only solution is for the government to permit responsible and patient capital which would ensure higher quality and lower costs. Amid all the negativities surrounding the Indian education sector, there is a positive news in the form of Khaitan School. Today we are going to talk about the helmsman of The Khaitan School and how his school is ushering the path towards holistic education. We are talking about none other than Mr. Vedant Khaitan himself.
Belonging to the Marwari community, his family hails from Ramgarh (Rajasthan) that had relocated to Kolkata over a century ago. Since then, the Khaitan family has been an integral part of nation-building. His great-grandfather was one of the founding members of what is today one of India’s top law firms, Khaitan & Company after which, the next generation went on to establishing many schools and industries which today are owned by various members of his family. Some of their schools are – The Khaitan School (Noida), Khaitan Public School (Ghaziabad), Khaitan Pre-School (Noida), BDM Int’l School (Kolkata), Indus Valley World School (Kolkata), Sunny Preparatory School (Kolkata).
Education par excellence
Talking about the present education system, Vedant asserts, “The education system needs to radically change. With the onset of Industry 4.0, schools and educators need to adapt themselves to new age technology, relevant curriculum and a dynamic pedagogy to ensure that learners of today are adequately equipped for careers in a highly uncertain tomorrow”. According to him, students have the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn. To achieve this, schools today have to think of ways of hard wiring this in the teaching process. The mindset of creating learners in a factory-style mass production setup has to change to cater to the needs of individual students who in turn need to be prepared for careers that don’t even exist today!
Teacher Training and Leadership Development programs have to be institutionalized in our schools. On-going training, defining growth path for our teachers and creating a unified vision for the entire faculty are critical.
To bring education par excellence in his school, Mr Khaitan chose the path of pursuing just one-thing rather than focusing on many things. As explained in the book ‘The One Thing’ by Garry Keller, the greatest companies or individuals in the world are known for just one thing that they excel in. Individuals like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson or companies like Apple, Sony, Ford, Daimler-Benz, Colgate etc. are all known for pretty much one thing that they did well or continue to do, that made them successful.
Talking about the challenges, Mr Khaitan says, “Over regulation, lack of clarity on Government policy for private education institutions and activism regarding school fees have been the biggest challenges for us”. Through FICCI-ARISE, he has had meaningful discussions with the government and made meaningful impact for the betterment of school education in India.
Talking about the factor that has helped him immensely, perseverance has been his biggest asset to deal with all sorts of situations. Continuing to work at the task at hand and persevering through it without worrying about results has seen him through a lot of hardship and uncertainty. His school is extremely process driven and has invested a lot of time and resources in creating systems and processes. The school has mapped out all processes in the functioning, both academic and non-academic and has created a task level tracking system.
As a leader of the organization, he takes decisions related to finance, hiring, marketing, digital adoption and planning growth.
Vedant – The Connoisseur
Mr Khaitan is a multifaceted personality. He is an advanced western classical pianist, a photographer, a technology enthusiast, a golfer, an aeromodeller and a singer. He has played golf at the national level (in school), held a photography exhibition, held two-piano performances. He aspires to compete in a national level aeromodelling championship. These days, he is preparing for his third piano performance. He practices piano few hours a week, flies during weekends, occasionally sings karaoke, and workout at least 3-4 days a week.
“Over weekends I try and catch up with friends / social commitments. I try to spend enough time with my children whether it is playing games with them, taking them for their various classes, teaching them something new or simply watching movies with them. I am also now restarting my golf which was on a long sabbatical! My wife loves to travel so we take a few short breaks throughout the year”, he exclaims.
Apart from his dynamic skills, he is very serious about the kind of attire he carries. He loves business formals. He believes that when you dress well, people take you seriously which in turn, affects the quality of your discussion and the possible outcomes. It also alters one’s own state of being which affects the way you think and feel throughout the day.
The Khaitan School encourages creative thinking within its organization. Lesson plans are created by teachers who discuss with each other and then with their superiors. Teachers themselves decide their plans which is then standardized for a particular topic. Within classrooms, teachers are free to innovate new ways of teaching which is then shared with other staff members. “In administration, since we have mapped out all tasks and responsibilities, staff members are free to suggest changes to further improve their output and create an effective working environment”, Mr. Khaitan says.
Mr. Khaitan’s association with FICCI-ARISE has greatly helped by putting him in touch with the leaders of the education industry. It’s given him insights into best practices from across the world, a growth mindset and above all, amazing friends.
“In my experience, associating with leaders of your field is imperative. You start thinking like those whom you surround yourself with, your thought alters your actions and your actions alter your results. If one can become a part of a forum of like-minded individuals, it would positively add a lot of value”, he says.
About Vedant Khaitan
He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA. In 2008 he was inducted into the Management of The Khaitan School and in 2013 established Khaitan Pre-School which has received numerous awards for quality education and has been recognized amongst the leading pre-schools of Noida and Uttar Pradesh. He was instrumental in forming the Gautam Budh Nagar chapter of the Independent School Federation of India and is an active member. He also Co-Founded the K-12 education chapter of FICCI (FICCI-ARISE) and is presently the Chair of the North Committee. From April 2018 till November 2019, he completed numerous trainings, the most important of which was the 8-month Business Mastery Program under the guidance of Mr. Rahul Jain (Business Coaching India).