How Quest Alliance is playing the role of an ecosystem builder with Q2L

“We need to ask ourselves – are we really putting our heads together as a community to work on a problem? Or are we doing it in our own spaces?”

As the city cools off amidst a string of showers, so does the fervour that characterised this year’s Quest2Learn Summit. Weeks of relentless work had culminated in a two-day conference, inadvertently setting the standard for discourse around the future of work and learning.

In a freewheeling chat at the Bangalore International Centre, Aakash Sethi – CEO of Quest Alliance – sinks into a chair, ready to organize his thoughts and reflect on the days that passed by and what it means for the ecosystem. Excerpts:

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Bal Sansads: Rethinking education in a changing world

Skills meant to cultivate collaboration and problem-solving will become essential for businesses across all sectors in the future. This necessitates the need for schools to make 21st century skills a core component of education.

Rajeev Ranjan may be on his way to becoming an able retail manager, but the Bihar native still fondly remembers his experience as the ‘Prime Minister’ of the student parliament – or Bal Sansad – in his school. Democratically elected, he identified problems in his school and undertook change-projects to resolve them with the help of the school administrators and community.

Thus, tasked with overseeing key functions and activities around the school, Ranjay unwittingly ended up grooming his bargaining and presentation skills – crucial in his current job, which regular classroom teaching would have left him lacking. As a Bal Sansad member, he in turn cultivated the skills of leadership, networking, self-expression and most importantly, problem-solving.

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Coalition Building & Corporate Philanthropy

Funder and nonprofit perspectives come together to tackle an issue at the heart of the development sector. What needs to be done to amplify the impact of CSR funds?

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Over the past decade, I have watched the admirable, at times controversial, but ceaseless march of corporations and philanthropic foundations to ‘do good’ in India, and to do it well. It’s been accelerated by changes to the Indian Companies Act, which mandated that 2% of the average profits of a company be invested in CSR.

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Ten Tricks for Effective Facilitation

Meaningful teaching boils down to keeping it simple and harnessing your passion, shares Training Coordinator and former facilitator, Rohan J

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Facilitation is an art which adds value to the traditional teaching and lecturing process, like adding sugar to milk. Effective facilitation can bring a very positive vibe to the learning ecosystem, which can enhance cooperation and collaboration, and thus bringing synergy to the entire teaching-learning process. Facilitation brings a deeper meaning in this 21st Century classroom framework which is driven by emotions, technology, peer learning and the internet of things. But how can you master this much-needed skill to harness the maximum potential of teaching?

Developed through nine years of my teaching/facilitation career and a further six months working as a MasterCoach Training Coordinator at Quest Alliance, here are some tricks of the trade:

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By students, for students

How Bal Sansad, or child parliaments, enable students to find their voices

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“The PM has a budget for the nation. Why don’t we have a budget for the school?” – Bal Sansad Student, MS Dalsinghsarai, Samastipur District, Bihar

With non-cognitive skills such as critical reasoning and the ability to engage in meaningful debates becoming ever-more important in a fast changing job market, enabling young people to articulate questions such as these is crucial.

The idea of Bal Sansad (or ‘Child Parliaments’) within government elementary schools is not new. A model United Nations program has been running internationally since the mid twentieth century, while the Indian government first proposed the idea of Child Parliaments almost twenty years ago. In practice, its implementation has been sporadic and inconsistent. In Bihar, where Quest Alliance run the Anandshala program in the Samastipur district, interventions to enliven the Bal Sansad Child Parliaments date back to 2012.

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Learning with your Learners

What does it take to be an impactful facilitator? Nuneseno Chase writes about being an an instructor, counsellor, friend, mentor, administrator … but always a learner.

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Over the years as a facilitator, I’ve discovered that learners have different characteristics, different learning capabilities, different reaction times, different attitudes, values, interests, motivations and personalities.  I need to be aware of these differences and adjust my pedagogy and learning environment accordingly.

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The Innovation Revolution

Only through nurturing a culture of innovation at scale can our education systems change fast enough to meet the needs of 21st Century learners. IDEX Fellow Chloe Edmundson shares how this belief brought her to Bangalore, and to Quest Alliance.

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I am a devout believer in the power of innovation. Innovation has the power to completely shift existing realities both in incremental ways and on immense scales. I strongly believe that one of the most important areas to be harnessing the power of innovation is in our education systems. Our educational systems are simply not built to support the current state of our world. Lack of access to education or using antiquated models means that we are not preparing students to flourish in our rapidly changing world. We are individually and as a planet facing overwhelming issues threatening our very existence, and I believe that the foundation of addressing these issues is through education.

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