For India to make good on its demographic dividend (600 million under-25s – the metric that motivates education technology companies like Byju’s, Unacademy, Vedantu and the others go all-out to win over as many students as possible), it is prudent to reason that investments in education and healthcare ought to be talked about more often.
The private sector is responsible for shouldering a majority of the onus of providing good quality school education. This is not to say that public funds haven’t been utilized. We are saying that private investors have contributed more to satisfactory student learning outcomes because funds get utilized effectively, thereby meaning that every single rupee has gone into constructive, sustainable work.
We live in an era where the term ‘lifelong learning’ has often been spoken about because humanity has made great progress in documenting each and every learning discipline, and made them accessible to millions and millions of people. Today, technology is leading to the convergence of multiple disciplines. Today, no longer can an individual study one particular discipline and spend his or her entire life working around one particular discipline.
The students of the future must be multifaceted in every sense of the word.
Today, at Bangalore Insider, we spoke to the founder of CRUST, a preschool brand which aims to create students prepared to embrace the future.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, where did you grow up?
I am Divya, a Malayali, born and brought up in Chennai, where I did my Engineering. I am married to a Telugite and have two wonderful kids, both of whom were born in the UK where I lived for about 9 years. During my time in the UK, I had done my MBA from the University of Wales. Having stayed there for quite a long time, I moved to namma Bengaluru three years ago.
Since how long have you been in the playschool business?
It has been around 4 years since I ventured into the field of preschools. I worked as a school Governor in a primary school for their early year foundation stage in the city of London. I was part of the team which was responsible for strategic direction of the school and collective decision making for better educational outcomes.
You are starting your own brand of preschools now. What is the biggest challenge that you faced when you thought of starting your own brand?
Like many others in the business sector, the biggest challenge currently for me is facing the lockdown due to Covid – 19 and not able to meet children one to one. At school, we use non-digital methods to reduce children’s screen time & it’s adverse effects. But now, due to the lockdown we have incorporated remote learning using video conferencing. Though it is the need of the hour and we limit it to short sessions, I still feel this is slightly against our ethos.
How did you overcome it?
We are currently engaging our children by keeping in touch on video conferencing with very limited screen timing. Chit-chatting with tiny tots is so much fun, they love storytelling and any playful activity. We keep them engaged by giving weekly activities and by organizing virtual chat with their classmates. It’s lovely to see smiles on their faces when they see their teachers and friends on conference calls.
Our motto of getting preschool children to school brings holistic development with enjoyable learning and encourages socialising at a young age. We all would like to come out of this lockdown with more confidence, keeping safety as priority. Our flexible remote learning & regular school program is getting more attention as our teachers and children are prepared for both remote learning & regular learning for the academic year 2020-21.
It must be really fun to be and interact with the kids. Tell us one thing you like and don’t like about this business.
The best part in this sector is being a teacher and interacting with kids. They become an integral part of your life. Children of preschool age are extremely inquisitive without boundaries and this is an amazing stage for the brain development. Talking, reading and playing can stimulate brain growth positively. The most enjoyable part is having an opportunity to mould the children and influence them with basic discipline, cuddling them and answering their extraordinary out of the box questions.
The most enjoyable part is having an opportunity to mould the children and influence them with basic discipline, cuddling them and answering their extraordinary out of the box questions.
My interest towards the education sector is a no brainer. I love what I do and as a mother I can relate to how best children should enjoy their early stage learning. Answering the second part of your question, when you like something, you try to find a way for every challenge that you face and there is nothing that I don’t like about my preschool journey.
How is competition in this sector? How does your preschool differentiate itself from the other preschools out there?
Competition is the force that makes you step up and work harder. There is a school to my left and to my right and we still are running it happily with a healthy competition.
From the parent’s feedback we have learnt that the thing they like about CRUST is the extra attention and care that we provide to each child with a personal touch and teaching skills according to their individual capabilities. We support them to enrich their learning skills with a unique level of understanding by using different methods of teaching depending on the child and not restricted to follow one particular teaching method.
What are the future expansion plans?
Presently with the ongoing pandemic, it feels like the future is not in our hands. If given an opportunity, I would like ‘CRUST’ to be known for its core values COMMUNICATION, READING, LOGICAL THINKING & HONESTY. We would like to help every child step into our school to attain valuable early education life skills and learn to be confident & face real life and to grow as a happy individual.
The quality of education influences a child’s personality development, not only in analytical intelligence but also in knowing to handle emotional intelligence.
At CRUST we believe in community building with children, parents, and teachers. With technology of e-learning, remote learning & developing e-learning products, we hope to help & support across PAN India.
Another important community we have great respect for is “Nannies” who look after preschool children with utmost care. We have plans to start our training classes for individuals who would like to choose Nanny as their career. We believe the nanny industry would grow in our country as their skills are adoptable for the elder care sector as well which I guess is going to be more in demand in coming years.
Coming back to you, as an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you are most paranoid about that keeps you awake at night?
I am a content person, and as an entrepreneur I would like to learn and grow along with people who I work with, listen to experts and be fluid in approach to handle new normal at any given time.
What motivates you to keep going?
The smile that I see in my school children and the unconditional love you receive from them, makes me face any kind of challenges.
Any advice you would like to give to the aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
Listen to your heart and do what you like. Interest and commitment are two essential things in life which will help you to go places and let you achieve what you want.
You can connect with Crust on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website
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