How LEAD came into being?
Over the years, India has made significant progress in providing access to education, recording near-universal enrolment at the elementary level. The enrolment figures at secondary levels have also gone up even as the average annual drop rate remains about 18 percent. The country today has over 15.51 lakh schools with nearly 25 crore students enrolled in them. Of them, there is a sizeable chunk of affordable private schools catering to the educational needs of the students. But, the quality of education, acute shortage of qualified teachers, lack of infrastructure, and other facilities remain a major concern.
Sumeet Mehta and Smita Deorah, Co-founders, LEAD, realised that the teaching skills were low in budget schools and traditional teacher training methods were not helpful in bridging the learning gap. Adding to the problem further was that the students belonging to vernacular language-speaking households aspired for English-medium education and traditional textbooks and curriculums were not addressing their needs. The duo researched curriculums, pedagogies, technology, and school systems to design a solution tailored for the unique needs of the teachers and students, and established LEAD (earlier known as LEAD School) in 2012 with a mission to make the best education accessible and affordable to every child in India.
The objective of LEAD is to ensure that they leave behind no child and teachers have an excellent grasp of their subjects. LEAD is an integrated academic system that delivers quality and innovative curriculum via a simple technology-based delivery model. It is improving the learning outcomes of students and the performance of teachers in affordable private schools across the country.
LEAD is one of the fastest-growing EdTech companies in India today which reaches out to six lakh plus students across 1,700+ partner schools in Tier 2, 3, and 4 cities and towns.
In August last year, LEAD completed a USD 28-million Series C funding round led by WestBridge Capital along with their existing investor Elevar Equity. This was soon followed by the acquisition of QuizNext, an AI-powered gamified student assessment, and practice platform to enhance its overall product offerings to help schools maintain their standards of learning and provide ‘a complete school’ experience.
Empowering students during initial days of lockdown
After the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020, the government directed schools across the country to shut down and conduct classes online to ensure students do not suffer any academic losses. While schools struggled to put together an online format of learning, powered by a robust technology platform across APS schools in India, LEAD become the first education provider to set up the largest online school – LEAD School@Home programme within a week since the lockdown. This first-of-its kind initiative empowered lakhs of students to continue schooling without a single loss of learning day owing to the shutdown of their physical school. The high quality learning programme, which started with LEAD partner schools was eventually rolled out for every student in the country. A record 12 million class views were seen within 30 days of the launch of LEAD School@Home. This initiative made remote or distance learning accessible to students in over 600+ English-medium schools, leading to a paradigm shift in India's school education system.
Empowering teachers for remote training
COVID -19 brought to the fore a severe crunch in teachers who were trained to provide online schooling. LEAD set up LEAD Teachers’ Academy, to help educators address the challenges they were facing while imparting online education. The Academy continues to focus on three major areas of teacher training – Creating a growth mind-set among educators, improving teaching skills in an online learning environment, and providing emotional and social support to help them cope up with the pressure and anxiety while taking virtual classes.
Support system for School
Apart from students, teachers and parents facing challenges during the lockdown, school owners too faced a severe disruption on the operational front. While schools fees dwindled, the management had to spring into action to provide for technology integration to facilitate online learning, continue paying salaries to teachers and staff and also begin planning for additional measures to reopen schools with new realities of social distancing norms.
Coming to the rescue of schools, LEAD in June launched a Post-Lockdown School Handbook to help schools across the country plan and prepare for reopening their campus. The Ed-Tech company also submitted its recommendations to the Union education ministry, central and state secondary school examination boards. The Handbook guides the schools in carrying out essential activities ranging from school transport, classroom seating, and offline/online teaching-learning, academic year planning, and outdoor activities. It also focuses on health and hygiene and underlines the responsibilities of the school, teachers, parents, and students.
Supporting anxious Parents
The principal aim at LEAD is to ensure parents can provide their children with world-class learning and class or geographic constraints do not come in their way. LEAD opens up a world of unlimited opportunities for children (who otherwise would have been studying in a regular school) by making them ready for the exam of life essentially by moving away from rote learning, better personality development, bridging the gap between their learning and what kids in elite schools have access to. Through the Parent App, LEAD keeps parents updated on lessons plans, latest progress and evaluation of their wards.
Uninterrupted schooling ahead with LEAD
As a technology first, multi-modal learning platform that provides future ready curriculum, LEAD has introduced a Bridge Course for students entering the new academic year in 2021. The company has plans to roll out the Bridge Courses for all subjects for the students of Grade 2 to 9 who may have lost significant learning time because of the prolonged lockdown. The course is designed to help with a thorough recap of core concepts from previous grades with ample practice through a simple, easy-to-execute curriculum that includes videos, worksheets, quizzes, and group activities.
‘LEAD-ing’ the change in making schools ready for a post-Covid-19 environment
LEAD is the first and only Ed-Tech in India to launch a ‘hybrid school system’ for the 2021 academic year to enable schools, teachers, students, and parents to adapt to the new normal. The hybrid school system enables schools to deliver uninterrupted quality learning online or offline and at home or in school with world-class teaching pedagogies.
It also allows the schools to decide the days when students will attend online class or physical school, add new subjects, and allocate teachers per classroom. Schools can also make use of the pre-set hybrid timetables to conduct the classes on alternate days, a half-week basis, or customise the schedule for weekdays.
LEAD has been taking continuous efforts to innovate. Under its Curriculum 3.0, it has introduced various courses/programmes to ensure excellent learning for every child. To democratize access to high-quality coding programme, which has been outlined in the National Education Policy, LEAD has launched a Coding and Computations Thinking Skills (CCS) for budget private schools in India. the programme will help students to develop games, apps, and multimedia content and visualize and analyze data as well.
Future ready students
To address the anxieties of students and parents, LEAD has launched a new campaign ‘Kal Ke Liye Kabil’ that puts forth the company’s vision to empower students, especially in areas where they have no access to quality education, lack the resources and infrastructure to avail a quality learning experience. With years of patterned conditioning and rote learning that limits one’s thought process and affects the student’s confidence and self-esteem, LEAD aims to address these problems by providing students with a new impetus to learning with redefined technology, greater access to information, and improved pedagogy.
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