Opinion

Land of the ‘free’

Ravi Santlani
Land of the ‘free’

Learning is constant – or ideally, it should be. It helps you remain relevant, prepare for a changing world, keep abreast of developments, boost your profile, change your perspective, and spark new ideas. However, in my experience, most Indian educators think differently. Many are reluctant to invest in learning, whether it’s time, effort or money. I would like to ask school managements if they have budgets allocated every year for learning sessions, but I am not very optimistic about the answer. Most will be happy to embrace any activity; the only condition is that it should be free. This is extremely unfortunate. Educational conferences – which take immense resources to organise - serve as an ideal learning ground for educators to increase their educational opportunities, network with peers, encounter new methods and vendors, position yourself as an expert, and have fun! However, all these key benefits take second place to that one primary question: Is it free?

Our research while working on our flagship conference, the ScooNews Global Educators Fest last month, proved that we reached out to over 2000 educators – and majority of them declined to pay the registration fee. In fact, there were many who suggested we invite them as speakers instead! In the USA, on an average, an educator spends $1000 annually towards learning. Conferences in the US are content-rich because the attendees pay the delegates’ fees, which helps organisers keep the focus centred on learning. In India, most organisers are largely dependent on sponsorship, where speaking slots are sold to product and services companies.

It is time school owners re-focus and understand the importance and necessity of investing in growth. Allocating an educational learning budget for their principals and heads of school, which would cover attendance at key conferences and other learning platforms, would ultimately benefit their own school. That, of course, could only come when we overcome our deep-rooted desire for a ‘free lunch’.

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