Chennai: When Equitas Small Finance Bank (then known as Equitas Microfinance Ltd) started the Equitas Development Initiatives Trust (EDIT) in February 2008, the idea was to render meaningful service to the community at large.
Since then, the sole focus of EDIT has been on educating the poor.
In 2010 came Equitas Gurukul Matriculation Schools. According to EDIT, robust people policies at every stage—recruitment and on-boarding, goal setting, employee engagement and performance reviews—have set the schools apart.
“EDIT also focuses on community development through Equitas health helpline, skill development programmes for income generation, job placement opportunities and rehabilitation of pavement dwellers," said V. Rajagopal, assistant vice-president of human resources.
EDIT focuses on providing a non-discriminatory opportunity to children from families of modest economic means, especially from up-country locations, to receive quality and holistic education, said S. Muralidharan, correspondent of Equitas Gurukul Matriculation Schools. He is also the chief people officer of Equitas Small Finance Bank.
Equitas Small Finance Bank, which started as a microfinance institution in 2007, has helped in “nurturing and empowering the children by providing a holistic education to transform them into responsible individuals", said Muralidharan.
EDIT, which runs eight Equitas Gurukul schools in Tamil Nadu, has set up a centre of academic excellence in Chennai with subject matter experts who design and develop lesson plans for all the eight schools, in order to ensure uniformity in terms of the quality as well as teaching.
With around 400 employees, Equitas Gurukul Schools also hold regular workshops for teachers. A teacher competency assessment looks at their subject knowledge and teaching effectiveness and provides specific inputs for them to improve.
Nearly 90% of the employees in the Gurukul schools are women. “We prefer women employees to take care of the children in the primary classes. Male teachers are recruited only for high school and higher secondary classes," said Rajagopal.
The teachers set their goals at the beginning of every academic year and they are reviewed on a quarterly basis. Following the review, corrective actions are taken for the teachers to achieve their goals.
Equitas Gurukul schools maintain a teacher-student ratio of 1:16. The schools have 5,700 students and are targeting 50,000 students by 2025.
“Practically it is not possible to set up our own schools. Once our model is fully robust, we have plans to offer it to government schools free of charge, and to private schools with a condition that they charge a reasonable fee," said Muralidharan.