October 21st, 2017, Forbes India
Hasanat High School, Mumbai is a private, ICSE, Co-educational School, run under the aegis of ATTALIM, the educational administration of Dawat-e-Hadiyah. The school was founded in June 1978, with a handful of chirpy three year olds. The foundation stone was laid by Dr. Syedna Mohammed BurhanuddinRA. By 1991, Hasanat had blossomed into a full-fledged school.
The motto of the school is ‘Knowledge enjoins good deeds’. The school has a committed, dedicated, qualified and friendly staff at four levels: Pre-Primary, Primary, Secondary and Deeniyat (religious education). The school takes keen interest in maintaining quality education through ‘teacher training programmes’ and ‘teacher training camps’ which are conducted every year thus securing outstanding results every year.
For almost 10 years, K-8 learning company XSeed has been working at transforming primary school education in India through step-by-step lesson plans for teachers and students.
The teacher’s voice rings out across the classroom. “Settle down”, she says, and promptly the Class 6 students scuttle to their wooden desks. The middle-aged Farida Mun, or “Farida ma’am”, dressed in a printed pink rida, turns to her table where a large bowl of water stands. One at a time she takes three stones – large, medium and small – and drops them into the water. “Observe what happens”, she instructs the class. Eleven year old Hasan, who has been sitting towards the back swinging his legs back and forth, jumps out of his seat to look at what Mun is doing.
“So what did y’all see?” Mun asks after completing the experiment. The class erupts, Almost everyone’s hands go up, desperately flagging them in the air to attract the teacher’s attention. “The big stone made the biggest splash,” says a third. Tactfully Mun directs the discussion, getting the children to conclude that the more the weight – or “mass” – of the stone, the greater is the “force” exerted, leading to a bigger splash.
It’s easy to mistake Hasanat High School for an upmarket institute following the International Baccalaureate system. But, in reality, it’s a middle-income community school in Mumbai’s suburb of Andheri, which follows the regular ICSE curriculum. Yet, far from the traditional “chalk and talk” manner of teaching, which is common in central and state board schools, Hasanat holds out a different promise. Here critical thinking trumps rote learning, creativity is encouraged not curbed, and teachers are unafraid. Unafraid to experiment, let students lead discussions and importantly ask questions. Their confidence, like that seen in Mun, is in part courtesy of XSeed.
A Singapore and Bengaluru headquartered for-profit social enterprise, XSeed Education Private Limited has quietly become a force in elementary and primary education in India. After it was set up in 2008, the K-8 learning company has been providing schools with the tools and techniques needed to deliver a ‘five step child-centred learning process’ that helps bring to life the magic seen in Mun’s class. Over one million children from more than 3,000 low to middle income schools across India, Nepal, Bhutan, the Middle East, and the Philippines are benefiting from XSeed.
There’s a core quality challenge in schools today,” says Ashish Rajpal, the tall, bespectacled founder and CEO of XSeed. This is more so in government run schools, but also in low and middle income private schools where a lack of trained teachers, poor infrastructure and high student-teacher ratios result in modest learning outcomes, It’s these English speaking, non-elite private schools that XSeed targets, says Rajpal.
The 48-year-old quit his corporate career as the worldwide head of marketing at French food giant Danone in Paris to pursue his passion for education. The birth of his first child was the “trigger” to his interest in children, “That’s when the bug of wanting to do something with kids bit me,” he says. After three years in Paris, Rajpal got admitted to the Harvard Graduate School of Education and, against all good advice, stalled his successful career to go after his “second life”.