School students here are often seen burdened with loads of books and backpacks bigger than themselves. But this scenario may soon change, in India, as well as in Kolkata as one of the oldest schools of the United Kingdom, the Durham School, is coming here, with new methods of technology-based teaching, in collaboration with IKC Holdings (Infinity Group), a Kolkatabased real estate major.
Martin George, headmaster of the 600-year-old Durham School was quite enthusiastic about bringing in this revolutionary change in school level education in this country. He said, “We are looking forward to introducing a cloud-based, digital mode of teaching. Students can get rid of their piles of books and generate notes and study materials using technologies like the Internet or softwares, apps, online storage drives etc.”
He said, “Why should a child carry piles of books everyday to school when all kinds of information are available everywhere. We plan to make studies, virtually paperless.”
The Durham Infinity International Schools, will set up at least five institutes around the country in the next few years, even though the Durham authorities are eager to flag off their journey next year itself, as it would be their first venture out of the UK. However, infrastructure development would take some time, according to their Indian associates.
“We have plans to set up at least five schools in the next three to five years, in India. We are in talks with different states, including West Bengal. In Kolkata we have explored a few sites like Rajarhat, Kalyani etc; however, it is yet to be finalised as the project would require at least 20-25 acres of land,” said Ravindra Chamaria, chairman Infinity Group.
Students who would take admission to these schools would get a Durham certificate and a degree from the affiliated boards, the school would adopt to. Despite the degree they provide, their teaching methods and facilities will be similar to that of an international school.
“We are here to impart world-class education to the new generations. Not only education, our school has the reputation of involving students in a number of extra-curricular activities like music, drama, sports of different kinds, science programmes, expeditions, debates etc and a host of other activities to give students an all-round exposure,” said George.
The residential school will have a seating capacity of 700-1100, and it might accommodate both boarding students, as well as day students, according to George. He added, “We believe in individual care of each student and thus in contrary to the prevalent system in India, where a single class accommodates 50-60 students, we would keep the teacher-student ratio restricted to 1:20 in the middle school and 1:10/15 in the higher secondary section.”
However, teachers here are not used to such innovative teaching methods. When asked how are they planning to handle this issue, George said, “We would bring some teachers from Durham, UK, who would train the Indian teachers we recruit, in our teaching methods.”
He added, “At Durham, we check assignments given to our students over the Internet. This makes the work interesting for both of us and it also saves paperwork.”
Even though these new concepts might seem to be too much use of technology for Indian students who are more used to paperwork, Durham authorities are quite enthusiastic about introducing these new changes in school education. According to them, children love technology and studies can be made more of a fun activity with implementation of new technology.