Open schools offer a new ray of hope

Open schooling is one such education system which offers the flexibility and freedom to learn at one\'s own pace.

Chennai: Living in a nation like India where education literally translates into nothing more than grades on a mark sheet, we've time and again seen generations of children pushed into a mindless rat race. Not so surprisingly, the children who fail to conform to the mainstream education system are often branded as 'stupid' and subjected to harsh criticisms. In a society plagued with such a mindset, the high number of student suicide rates comes as no shocker. This again is a grave reminder that it is probably high time we start looking at alternate education systems to meet our children's needs.

Open schooling is one such education system which offers the flexibility and freedom to learn at one's own pace. Homeschooled children who wish to take milestone examinations to gain admission into graduate or diploma programmes, children who are pursuing professional sports or other careers, children with special needs, children who are unable to grapple with a second language and those who opt out of the rigours of the regular academic curricula - all of them can avail of the open school system.

Blink research and services, a unique initiative co-founded by Arun Fernandez is one such start-up offering NIOS (national institute of open school) education in Chennai. Founded last year with the mission 'No child is left behind', Blink has started an open school centre at IDCR building, in Nungambakkam.

“Being diagnosed with dyslexia at 13 and having to shift around 8 schools to complete my education, childhood was not particularly easy for me. I have experienced firsthand what it is to feel like when one can't cope with mainstream learning techniques, how it is to be a child who requires special learning methodologies, the confusion that prevails on what to do next and how to overcome this learning condition. There's 'a best' in every child, even if it is not 'the best'. And every child deserves an equal chance at life. This is the main reason behind this venture”, says Arun.

Having completed his Class 10 and 12 education from an open school himself, he says “Open schools are usually functional in small spaces. At Blink, we wanted to give the children a normal school experience and social identity which comes along with it. The huge classroom space at IDCR helps us provide the environment we envisioned.” he says.

Offering the flexibility to take up examination when the child feels ready and providing the freedom to choose their own subjects, open schools offer a period of 5 years to complete higher education.

Vilasini Diwaker, Academic Director, Blink research and services says “Open schools are an alternative platform for students who can't cope with the traditional education system. With over 20 years' experience in the field of dyslexia with both remedial education, training and counselling these students, she says it is essential that we understand that every child is unique and stresses on the need for an inclusive education system which empowers every child.

“It is important to know NIOS syllabus is equivalent to CBSE, New Delhi and universities and colleges around the world accept this education system. The future is just as bright for a child graduating from NIOS education system”, she says. Arun Fernandez is one such success story. Graduating from NIOS system he went onto to get 6 degrees and later became a lecturer at Loyola College. His initiative Blink Research & Services Pvt Ltd was incubated in NSRCEL Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM) last year. Parents too seem to have taken well to these alternatives education systems.” We are happy we made the shift and our children are happier and feel confident in this environment” say parents of Nila and Allwin, who are students at Blink, IDCR.

Education for long has been synonymous with mark sheets, grades, rigorous extra classes and a rigid curriculum with little to almost no emphasis placed on the child's interests and individuality and alternatives like open schools come as a ray of hope. And it is now upon us that we open our minds to these off-beat education systems. Admissions to Blink NIOS, IDCR is now open. Interested students and parents can contact 91 7550246240 or email to administrati

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