Meet the Sheroes - Komal Arora
After-school programs are picking up pace in every metro across India. These innovative programs are aimed at teaching children about the basic Maths, Science, Communication and World concepts to strengthen their learning experience. In focus today we have Komal Arora who founded Merry Go Learn, an interesting initiative that teaches children differently,
Let's see what she has to say!
What is Merry Go Learn All about? How is it different from other after-school programs?
Children lose interest in learning by the time they reach middle school.Schools focus on book learning and majority of kids lack solid concepts.
Even if kids know a concept, they are not able to apply it to solve problems.Merry Go Learn takes this as an opportunity to be a part of re-defining education in India.
Merry-go-learn is a venture in after-school education aimed at building strong fundamentals and all-round personality development in students between 5 to 13 years through a unique hands-on learning approach that makes learning fun.
Our stimulation sessions, held after-school twice a week are fun-filled experiences where students get their hands seriously dirty getting their math, science, knowledge and spoken or written English skills straight! We teach through science projects, maths challenges and do-it-yourself experiments: all tailored to the school curriculum. In school, they learn electricity by drawing circuits. At Merry Go Learn, they “experience” electricity by building a motor from scratch. In schools, they read about air pressure. At Merry Go Learn, they “experience” the power of air pressure by building and flying a remote-controlled aircraft.
In addition, Merry Go Learn conducts several innovative short-term programs on weekends or during school breaks that give students a hands-on way to experience interesting disciplines such as forensics, robotics, aero-modeling, forensics, photography and more.
We at Merry Go Learn are committed to improving the quality of mainstream education in the country, and believe that the hands-on method involving “learning by doing" is the most effective way for a child to imbibe concepts and values, in every subject. Merry Go Learn programs are based on latest research on learning conducted by Harvard University. This methodology is very unique and helps us guarantee that a child, after attending Merry Go Learn program, would be thinking more, asking more and enjoying the process of learning.
How did the inspiration for starting this business come about?
Prior to starting this business, I was working with McKinsey as a consultant where I had to frequently present new ideas to the top management and CEOs of corporates. The inspiration for this particular business came through as I started interacting with kids in my family and helping them with their studies.
To my surprise, I could see similarities in how kids respond vs. how a CEO would respond to any information. In a sense, kids are like CEOs. They have a short attention span and within the first five minutes of your interaction with a child, you can either catch their attention or lose them. This is where I thought I could apply what I had learnt in my work experience with top management professionals to teaching kids in an engaging manner, which leads to 80% better retention.
What do you think lacks in the Indian Education System today?
According to PISA* (Program for International Student Assessment) survey results, Indian students rank second last globally in maths, science and reading skills. Even as per the ASER** report (The Annual Status of Education Report) , close to half of all children in India will finish eight years of schooling but still not have learned basic skills in arithmetic.
This is not surprising as the current classroom environment stifles curiosity and the desire to learn.
- Teaching methodology is primarily textbook based along with some use of audio visual aids, but hands-on experiential learning is missing.
- Scientific method involving forming hypothesis and experimentation to test the same is hardly followed.
- Questioning is not encouraged; rather the children are provided answers on a platter.
- Even the assessments are focused on testing memorization rather than concept understanding and application.
In addition, the current system fails to attract good, qualified and passionate teachers in schools, which makes implementing new methodologies even more difficult.
There is a drastic need to implement new learning methodologies in schools, attract good talent in teaching and support them with tools for effective classrooms.
What are your long term goals in the field of Education and for your company?
We aim to be a part of re-defining the education system for the country. Our long-term goals for education sector and Merry go Learn are as follows
- To build a generation of curious learners by giving them a stimulating classroom environment
- To remove fear of studies and make learning fun for students
- To make teaching an attractive profession for the youth and support them with effective tools for a stimulating classroom
What are the top 3 challenges you face in this industry?
The top 3 challenges in my opinion are
1) Awareness among parents – even though the parents appreciate the impact and importance of “experiencing” a concept vis-à-vis memorizing a concept, they tend to be shortsighted in terms of focusing on examination marks rather than building concept understanding and love for learning.
2) Outdated assessment metrics in schools that reward rote learning over concept understanding
3) Finding qualified and passionate teachers
What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur, according to you?
You can be a successful entrepreneur, if you have what it takes to be BRAVE
- B: Belief
- R: Resilience
- A: Aggression
- V: Vision
- E: Execution
In short, believe in yourself before the world believes in you.