Naresh Prasad Shrestha is the CEO/Principal at Samriddhi School. He has been actively involving in developing progressive education in Nepal. He has shared his views and experiences about progressive education and Nepal’s present situation of progressive education as well as initiation taken by Samriddhi School. Excerpts
At present, most of the schools are advocating for progressive pedagogy for quality education. What does progressive education actually refer to?
Progressive education is a philosophy introduced by John Dewey and other philosophers and educationists in the late 1800 AD. It is such a movement where the focus is laid on children to have concrete experiences in order to learn in a fearless environment instead of immersing in traditional rote learning. Such a philosophy of teaching later spread as progressive education. It has some dimensions including the belief that learning should not be limited within the classroom alone. It can take place everywhere. This approach avoids rote learning method and focuses on integrated curriculum, especially what addresses the wish of the students, and tends to make them learn in a fun-filled and joyful environment. In progressive education, focus is given on formative assessment to judge one’s learning achievement. In this approach, knowledge and skill go together, and behavioral change is kept in the center of evaluation.
Progressive education attempts to make learning bookless and playful. But the parents have doubt on this pedagogy thinking that it cannot ensure quality enhancement. In such a contradictory situation, what could be the role of parents for developing progressive education?
We, the teachers and parents, are both products of traditional learning and are habituated in traditional evaluation system. There is confusion everywhere that progressive education avoids examinations, but it is a fact that there is continuous assessment and each and every learning achievement is recorded by preparing the individual’s profile. Normally, the pressure and fear of examination is not given to the students up to the fifth grade, but they are evaluated continuously. So, the parents should be made aware of the new evaluation and learning approach.
In rational learning, acquiring knowledge was focused but progressive education aims at imparting “knowledge with skill, attitude, ability, culture and their application.” To what extent has Samriddhi School been adopting these the attributes of progressive education?
Samriddhi School was established with the main goal of providing progressive education. We have focused on critical thinking, problem solving, communicative and collaborative skills. Samriddhi School has introduced Unique Life Program which primarily emphasizes the belief that every child has a unique capacity and an innate leading capacity and if we are able to develop leadership capacity, he/she can compete excellently everywhere. Another emphasis is on academic excellence, and third, on the development of good culture. So, progressive education focuses not only on knowledge but also on holistic development. It has four dimensions: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. So, it is the process of a holistic child development.
Progressive education is obviously quite costly. How have you made it affordable?
Most of us have long rooted thinking that progressive education is obviously costly, but that is not true. The biggest instance is Samriddhi School itself. We are the instance that progressive education can be offered in a moderate fee structure. We have proved that progressive education can be provided at an affordable cost that can be borne by everyone. Some schools have made it a propaganda that normal people cannot afford it, but that is not true.
What are the proofs that Samriddhi graduates can compete globally?
We have groomed our students to be globally competitive in this globalization era. There are no boundaries for learning, and we always encourage trying out new ideas. Creativity is highly cherished at Samriddhi, and learners are treated as just learners, not rote machines. Our students are encouraged to learn advanced computer skills right from the junior classes. We have established a Robotic Lab in association with Robotic Society. Our school has launched an integrated curriculum including Robotic and Computer Programming. Recently, our students had participated and performed very well in a global level Robotic program in Switzerland. It proves that our students are globally competitive.
What answer do you have if we ask you, “Why should someone should at your school?”
First, we are imparting complete progressive education. Even inside progressive education, we are focusing on STEAM (Science, Technology, English, Arts and Mathematics) education. Further, we are committed to appreciate diversity and realization of the fact that each student is different and should be treated as a unique individual with his or her aptitude, emphasizing on the holistic development of a child, focusing on extra-curricular activities. Similarly, we have prepared for fully digitalized education. We run UK-based curriculum in computer education and the fee structure is also quite moderate.
What message would you like to convey to the parents and the students?
This is not the era of memory-based education. Our school has been imparting education focusing on the overall development of children, believing in the unique aptitude of each child. We have been creating a healthy environment for exploring our students’ hidden capabilities. So, I would like to request the parents to cooperate with us for their children’s progress.