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NEW DELHI : Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia says that after fixing infrastructure and quality issues in schools, a new school board, and startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem are among the next reform agendas for the city-state government. In an interview, Sisodia, also the education minister of Delhi, spoke about why his government is setting up a separate school board, as it seeks to shift from theoretical schooling. Edited excerpts:

Delhi government has been speaking about education investments. Give us three key outcomes.

Any change you want in the country or economy, you have to do it via education. This is our government’s foundation vision. First thing, the confidence of people in government education: we fixed the infra challenge and facilities which was a worrying issue for almost 99% of schools in 2015. We have dignified facility and infra now. Second, teachers’ confidence, and now they aspire to achieve success for students by investing more time, energy and effort. Third milestone was board results. Now we have good results, success at higher ranks, and almost 100% success rate in exams. Facility, teachers and results.

So, what next?

Now, we have started working on mind-set curriculum. In pre-school to eight standard, we have started to address the emotional mindset through efforts like happiness curriculum and from 9th to 12th, we are trying to inculcate entrepreneurship mindset. Then, we have our own school board, which is a reform agenda.

A new school board for Delhi away from CBSE? Why?

CBSE has done a great job in facilitating quality education at schools. Now, we want to take this much ahead: When we are talking about pass and fail, CBSE did a good job in ensuring quality. But we wish to test the mindset of students, CBSE does not have that. We want to test the learning outcome of students, CBSE does not have this facility. I wish to gauge and amend the understanding of students, their learning applicability. So, we have partnered IB board as our partner. Curriculum design, teachers’ training, exam pattern and testing will be done by IB. This is not a board for Class X and XII students. We are looking at continuous assessment. This is why we have set up a new board.

We are starting with 30 schools this year. The new board has taken up the governing of 30 schools. Every year, we shall add schools to this. We are not forcing schools, they are free to stay with CBSE or come with the new board. In two to three years, our school board’s quality outcome will be public. With IB as our partner, it will be a high in its quality outcome.

You said you wish to nurture an entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem and offer small seed funds to students to work on business ideas. Please elaborate.

The aim is to make Class XI and XII students work on business ideas of their own and end hesitation about executing business ideas. It’s like a learning investment plan for our students. We have already done a pilot in one school. We are expanding them to all 350,000 students in class 11 and 12 together and offering each student 2,000. A single student can come with an idea or a group of 15 can come and take a bigger amount ( 30,000) for their collective business idea. It’s a structural reform right from the school level. So, we are creating an ecosystem of 300,000 plus business ideas or start-ups. Even if 30% succeed, it will be a huge number.

In India, we have a jobs challenge. But our education system is creating job-seekers, not job providers. This needs a structural shift. Joblessness won’t go by political promises but through structural efforts. We also had a mentoring plan for students by entrepreneurs and local businesses and covid-19 did impacted it a bit, but this year, it will pick up pace.

What next for those students who start a micro venture?

First you learned the failure and success at school level through this seed fund and hand-holding. The best business plans of each school then will compete at district level and then at the state (Delhi NCR) level via a budding entrepreneur competition. Based on that, we shall take the top 100 ideas to an entrepreneurial carnival – this can be 100 students or 100 groups of students. These budding entrepreneurs will sell their ideas and future plans to Delhi-based investors. So, we are creating an ecosystem of school students led start-ups.

We shall also give direct admission to 10 groups of these students (up to 100 students) direct admission in our universities like Delhi Technology University, and Netaji Subhas University of Technology in their undergraduate business degree programmes.

Beyond business ideas, how is your entrepreneurship focus in secondary and senior secondary students?

This is for all students for 9 to 12th across streams. 10 to 15 entrepreneurial stories from MDH to Flipkart to Facebook to ‘dabbawala’. The idea is not to tell their stories but to dissect and tell the mindset behind these ventures. Our entrepreneurial teaching comprises of ventures set up by different strata of the society – people coming from poor backgrounds, migrants and people who are successful and high-profile. So, over four years, these students have started to learn about 40 to 45 entrepreneurs. What we are trying to teach and make them understand is growth, risk, certainty, peace of mind associated with different sectors and types of work. So by the time one passes out of school, he or she has done research on let’s say 20 to 40 entrepreneurs.

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