In her speech titled ‘Can upholders of the system be the changemakers’, Kavita Anand of Adhyayan started off revealing, “Today, we have 1200 schools; soon, we will be working with 7000 schools. It’s good for me that the number is increasing because it tells me that over time we’re going to start talking a common language. Even constitutionally, our country has more languages than a country can deal with. In addition, there are even more languages in schools. If there are 1.5 million schools in India, there are 1.5 million languages in our schools because schools do not talk with each other!”
Kavita pointed out that becoming the second largest populated country comes with a responsibility. “We need to ponder over what’s going to stop us from becoming a global powerhouse and what’s going to make it possible for that to happen.”
Listing the many restraining forces that act as roadblocks, she mentioned the ‘legacy mindset’, “wherein we don’t believe in bringing change till things are working fine.” She added, “There is also the system wherein all our children pass exams and we’re fine with it. Why don’t we want a paradigm shift? We need to motivate ourselves to give children better lectures and a better mode of examination.”
She counts the authorities as another restraining force. “Once a school told us that they were given mobile toilets for boys during elections but the toilets didn’t even work. But the school never questioned why the toilets were only for boys and why they didn’t work. That’s where the problem lies; no one’s allowed to speak against what’s wrong. We readily accept the downgraded quality because we don’t want to upset the people in authority. Similarly, many schools have good teaching aids and they call them of pristine quality because they’re never taken out of their boxes and remain untouched by students. They keep these aids intact and open them only during inspection!”
Sounding a note of inspiration, she declared, “We’re birds in a net and we can only escape this net when we’ll fly together.” She recalled one of the key influencers in her life, Hari Dang, ex principal, the Airforce School. “He gave me my first lesson of what a good adult looks like; he never said no to any child and encouraged every single student to be a leader. He sent all of us on treks to learn lessons of life. He’s the reason why I’m working all over the country; the treks taught me to sleep on mountain sides which helped me to sleep on bare floors with no fans as well as in complete luxury.”
Anand stressed on the need for a growth mindset wherein we are self-aware and open-minded. “It happens with support from the ecosystem as it gives the freedom to make decisions without being questioned for every act,” she explained.
Elaborating on the model of leadership and ecosystem wherein both should have agency and efficacy, she maintained, “If the leadership and ecosystem are low, nothing changes. And if the leader has self-efficacy but is placed within an ecosystem with low efficacy, then the change he or she brings will last as long as the leader is in his or her place; it will come diving down the minute the leader is out.”
She concluded, “Thus, we need leadership as well as a healthy ecosystem for real sustained change, which is subsequently required for a paradigm change.”