PANEL: Indian Education System – Opportunities & Challenges

CHAIR:  Megha Gupta

PANELLISTS: Ashok Pandey, Dr Manjula Pooja ShroffEllen Stern, Manish Prasad



Indian education system – a perspective

Ashok Pandey1

1 Princical, Ahlcon International School, Mayur Vihar, Phase-1, Delhi-110091, Delhi, India

The education system in India is one of the most complexes in the world. We have made great strides in the universalisation of primary education through the Right to Education Act (2010), widening the access to education, and improving gross enrolment ratio to promote education for all. However, the enrolment in the higher education remains low at twenty-three percent.
The need to broaden the secondary education landscape to enhance enrolment in the higher education is an imperative. Expanding the scope of courses available in alignment with the need of the contemporary world, vocational training, and skill development to ensure employability are other concerns.
The federal government’s emphasis, in the 2018, budget is on improving the quality of education, district wise strategy to enhance learning outcomes, teacher training and transition to digitisation.

For school going children, quality education lies in preparing them to be creative, to develop people skill, and to pursue lifelong self-improvement.

These goals can be driven only by a dedicated and committed team of teachers. India deserves a long pipeline of teachers voluntarily entering the profession as their first career options.

Using innovative thinking and creative tools, rewarding curiosity, encouraging teamwork and making reflection integral to pedagogy are the stepping stones to help our teachers in building our classrooms creative and digital.

This offers enormous opportunities for partnership with the traditionally supportive countries such as Australia in several areas such as teacher training, improving learning outcomes, integration of technology and skill development.


Ashok Pandey completed a Masters in Physics from Allahabad University and Consultancy Management from BITS, Pilani. He has just completed his tenure as the Chairman, National Progressive Schools’ Conference (NPSC). Author of several articles, projects and research papers, his first book the Pedagogical Life-Essays in Educating India, described by many as an educational travelogue, was published recently.

He is a recipient of several National and International awards including President’s Award (2012). He has keen interest in School transformation, professional development of teachers and, SDGs. Widely travelled to several countries in the world, he participated in Australia-India Leadership Dialogue held in Melbourne, Australia.

Opportunities & challenges in Indian school education

Dr Manjula Pooja Shroff1

1MD & CEO-Kalorex Group, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Ancient India, was known all over the world for its supremacy of inventions in the fields of astronomy, science, mathematics and religion. From the bygone days of Gurukul to current age of Google, India has come a long way. Earlier with the Gurukul system of leaning the students would reside with the tutor and learn lessons of life along with cognitive development. In current times, the focused examination orientation and the mark driven system is a far cry from the Gurukul way of learning.

Education sector is also in a process of transformation. Earlier it was considered altruistic and philanthropic in nature. However, now it has undergone change with the private sector playing a predominant role. Once regarded as a noble profession and teachers being held in high regard and respect in society the educational fraternity as it stands today is in a state of flux.

The violence of the kind seen like America which witnessed 18 school shootouts within a period of 2 months this year, is being witnessed in India. The value system is eroding. The prestige and stature of the teaching profession are diminishing. Education standards have to be redefined and reinvented to deal with this changing moral fabric of society.

Just as challenges are many Opportunities are equally magnificent. India is amongst the youngest population and the oldest of civilizations.

With programs like Skill India, Make in India and Digitial India, the country is ramping up to meet the requirement of the coming generations. Education is a key fundamental, a cornerstone for development. Recognizing this the Right to Education Act seeks to educate 25% poor students in private schools and there are several PPP [public private partnerships], thereby striking a correct balance between the optimum use of resources and pedagogy.


Dr Manjula Pooja Shroff is regarded by many as a change agent in the schooling sector in the state of Gujarat, situated on the West Coast of India.
Kalorex which was founded by her is a two-decade-old organisation offering a range of Educational services from pre-school to University. With over 40 institutions under its umbrella, the Kalorex group is known for academic excellence with a high focus on continuous development of teachers, the use of digital learning in classrooms and backend technology-driven processes.

Dr Shroff, apart from being an Edupreneur is a keen fitness enthusiast, a marathoner and cyclist.

International education in India

Ellen Stern1Manish Prasad2

1 Retried Director, American Embassy School, Cambridge, MA, United States
2 Chairperson, Partners on Board

The presentation will offer information about the current state of education in India with a focus on international schools. Well over 100 schools in India call themselves “international” to meet the strong interest in preparing students for universities abroad as well as in India. What are students studying? What is the approach to learning? What makes a school truly “international”? A discussion will open up questions about what is missing in India schooling and what the DET can contribute.


Following eight years as director of the Anglo-American School in Moscow and St Petersburg, Ellen served as the interim head of school in ten premier schools in the last thirteen years most recently at the American Embassy School in New Delhi. Her passion is mentoring/coaching women in leadership and working with international school boards. In2017, she co-founded for Partners on Board with Manish Prasad, an initiative to bring the best of international education practices to India and support international schools worldwide. A graduate of Harvard/Radcliffe, Ellen has an MA degree in Educational Administration from Teachers College of Columbia University.

Manish is the CEO of Smarter and Solutions, an organisation focused to deliver innovative products, applications and technology solutions to India and Southeast Asia. He has 25+ years leadership experience in Asia Pacific and Middle East for Fortune 100 companies. Manish has always been passionate about education. In 2006, he helped co-found Dr Maths, an after-school Math program for Grades 1 to 6 that currently serves children around the world. He serves on American Embassy School’s (AES) Board of Governors. He was President of AES for 2015-16 and 2016-17 with a budget of over $30M. During his tenure, the Board hired an interim and Permanent Director. Furthermore, made sure AES led the way in indoor air quality improvement for students, faculty and staff to counter prevailing Delhi air-pollution problems. Manish has an undergraduate degree in engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management.

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