Crucial to redefine success in education beyond exam score: DPS Gurgaon pro-VC

Devyani Jaipuria, DPS Gurugram pro-VC, speaks to Careers360 about finding the suitable curriculum, counselling, mental health and more.

Devyani Jaipuria, Pro Vice-Chairperson, Delhi Public School, Sector 45, GurgaonDevyani Jaipuria, Pro Vice-Chairperson, Delhi Public School, Sector 45, Gurgaon

Aeshwarya Tiwari | February 24, 2024 | 12:54 PM IST

NEW DELHI: “Unlike conventional approaches, we prioritise inquiry-based learning, encourage students to apply their knowledge to real-world scenarios,” said Devyani Jaipuria, pro vice-chairperson of Delhi Public School, Sector 45, Gurgaon, while speaking to Careers360 about the school, its approach to learning, and education in general. Edited excerpts below.

Q. How did DPS Sector 45 start?

A. The journey began 22 years ago when my mother, driven by a desire to give back to the society, started DPS Sector 45. She was involved in every aspect, from construction to hiring staff. DPS 45, DPS Jaipur, and Modern Montessori International were all initiated by her.

DPS operates on a franchise model. We pay a royalty for using their name and strictly adhere to their rules. The DPS Society conducts regular meetings to ensure compliance with standards, even though we operate independently.

Q. What curriculum do you offer – CBSE, IB or any other? Do you find one better than the other?

A. Some of our schools adhere to the CBSE curriculum, with DPS International being the sole institution offering the International Baccalaureate (IB). The decision between CBSE and IB is not about superiority, rather, it hinges on the specific needs of a family or child. Parents often lean towards IB for its distinct teaching methodology, emphasising skill development over rote learning. Ultimately, the choice depends on a careful consideration of the pros and cons aligned with the child’s aspirations and future plans.

Q. Where should the immediate thrust of educational reform be?

A. The immediate thrust for educational reforms should be directed towards enhancing digital literacy and technology integration. In today’s fast-paced world, digital skills are fundamental for academic success and future career readiness. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of technology in education, highlighting the need for equitable access to online resources.

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Therefore, investing in infrastructure, training educators in digital pedagogy, and ensuring universal access to technology should be a priority. Additionally, reforms should focus on fostering critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills to prepare students for a rapidly-evolving job market. By promoting innovative teaching methodologies and updating curricula to align with current global challenges, education can better equip students with the skills necessary for success in the 21st century.

Q. How do you decide which curriculum is suitable for a child, considering your own experience and choices for your kids?

A. I have two kids in the same school but opted for different curriculums. The choice depends on the child’s interests, capabilities, and future aspirations. For example, my academically-inclined daughter follows the IGCSE curriculum, while my son, who is more into sports, follows the ICSE curriculum. It’s about understanding each child’s needs.

Q. How do you address the need for counselling and mental health support in your schools?

A. We start counselling in Class 8 to help students understand their interests and aptitudes. We also involve alumni and conduct workshops to guide parents on supporting their children’s choices. We emphasise that forcing children into paths they don’t want can lead to stress and mental health issues. Regular counselling sessions, alumni interactions, and external experts help address these concerns.

Q. How do you help students decide their streams after Class 10?

A. We initiate conversations from Class 8 to help students understand their interests and aptitudes. Occasional psychometric tests and expert guidance are used to identify suitable paths for each student.

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Q. The success of students is often gauged by their performance in board and entrance exams. What is your stance on this issue?

A. I firmly believe that the current emphasis on board exams and entrance exams as the sole indicators of student success fosters a detrimental rat-race mentality and places undue stress on young learners. While assessments are essential for evaluating academic proficiency, the singular focus on high-stakes exams neglects the holistic development of students. Education should aim to cultivate critical thinking, creativity, and a passion for learning rather than promoting rote memorisation for exams.

A more balanced and comprehensive evaluation system, encompassing continuous assessment methods, project-based evaluations, and extracurricular achievements, would provide a more accurate representation of a student’s capabilities. Such an approach not only reduces stress, but also encourages a love for learning and the development of well-rounded individuals. It’s crucial to redefine success in education beyond exam scores, emphasising personal growth, resilience, and the acquisition of essential life skills. This shift in perspective would contribute to a healthier educational environment and better prepare students for the challenges of the future.

Q. What factors within the school environment do you believe have a significant impact on a child’s academic progress?

A. Several factors within the school environment play a pivotal role in influencing a child’s academic progress. The quality of teaching is paramount, with skilled and motivated educators inspiring a love for learning. Class size and student-teacher ratios also contribute, as smaller classes often facilitate more personalised attention and engagement.

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Within our school environment, we recognise that various factors significantly influence a child’s academics. One key factor is our emphasis on early integration of skill-based learning. We prioritise critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity from an early age. This approach contributes to the holistic development of students, nurturing the skills essential for success in the ever-changing educational landscape and future workplaces.

Q. What unique initiatives has your school taken to foster a more effective and engaging educational environment?

A. A learner-first approach is at the core, emphasising personalised learning experiences. By utilising progressive technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, we tailor learning modules to individual talents, allowing students to progress at their own pace. This initiative enhances engagement, understanding, and self-awareness among students.

Our school takes pride in embracing unconventional approaches and methodologies in teaching and learning. Inspired by the innovative mind-sets of figures like Richard Feynman, we challenge the traditional linear approach to education. We incorporate collaborative projects, creative assimilation, and real-life community-based problem-solving into our academic framework. This not only fosters open-mindedness but also prepares students for the dynamic challenges of the
modern world, encouraging creativity and innovation.

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