She’s responsible for changing the face of education in India; an education system that was restricted to rote learning. This need for change prompted her to establish the first Kangaroo Kids eleven years back. Ever since then, there has been no looking back for Lina Ashar, the Co-Founder – Korroboree International Online School, Founder Emeritus – Kangaroo Kids Preschool & Billabong High International School.
It was her passion for education that led her to start a chain of schools that has today become synonymous with education. Her path breaking concepts like learner centric education, research based curriculum and practical application of knowledge assimilated backed by international standards and processes is what makes her schools stand apart from others.
They were the first among the few to have an in-house R&D unit to design learning solutions at par with international standards, driven by one of the largest and most well qualified teams of experts across each arena. Today, KKEL supports 80 schools in India operating across 17 cities with an international presence in Dubai and Maldives.
Her one mission in life is to unlock the extraordinary human potential that children are born with. She also believes that the future of learning and work is digital and that’s exactly what she is working on. In an interesting conversation with BabyChakra, Lina Ashar talks about why schools need to use technology extensively to their advantage to be able to personalise the learning experience for children.
Lina Ashar wants children to learn how they can dream anything into becoming a reality
Kangaroo Kids and Billabong High are two very interesting names for schools. How did you think of those names?
The kangaroo is an odd animal, but the reason it is called so is even stranger. When the first explorer saw one in Australia, he asked a native Aborigine what its name was. Not understanding his question, he said ”Kan-Ga-Roo”, which is ”I don’t know” in the Aboriginal language. This was pretty much the state of education in India when we first began. Most people did not know why and what they were doing in education. The second reason is that the Kangaroo is an animal that nurtures its young in the pouch for a long time and gradually teaches survival skills. Similar to what we did at Kangaroo Kids.
Finally, I wanted to pay some homage to the education and exposure I received in Australia that allowed me to think divergently and taught me to question everything, especially the status quo!
The word Billabong has its derivation from the phrase Wirradjirri meaning man’s sacred water. It is said that a mother’s womb is never touched by the language of the Australian Aboriginal tribe, the word signifies Sacred Water. Sacred water comes from the earth, our mother. There is a saying that a mother’s womb is never touched by sunlight, and a human is surrounded by sacred water. God protects a child.
Billabong is also known for its ecosystem. In a real sense, every Billabong high student is an ecosystem checking all types of development of a child catering to the emotional, social, economic and intellectual needs of the child.
Our next project is known as Korroboree International Online School – which translates to a ‘sacred gathering’… we want all humans in our ecosystem to feel part of a sacred gathering, our learners, our team, and our parents. Korroboree is driven by the Dreamtime Digital Learning System.
The ‘Dreamtime’ is how the indigenous Australians see that life unfolded – we literally brought it into ‘being’ by dreaming about it. So basically, the vision for our learners is that your inner world, thoughts and emotions create your outer world or existence. You can dream anything into becoming a reality.
You are a pioneer in education, are you happy with the current education system in our country?
The current educational system needs a complete overhaul, while the teaching methodologies have changed quite a lot. We need to focus on changing our grading system as well. Schools need to use technology extensively to their advantage to be able to personalise the learning experience for each child as this helps children learn and retain the information being shared.
Having said that, the National Education Policy (NEP) is a great step forward to the changes needed in the education system. The challenge will be with implementation. However, the NEP guidelines were already automated in my previous learning design. As Korroboree is a new project and built post the NEP policy documentation – we can tangibly demonstrate all aspects of this in our new learning design, which I personally lead.
So things like subject integration, social-emotional learning and comprehensive assessment is something we have absolutely covered.
What according to you is education?
Education by most people is equated only with academics and the marks scored, that is where the crux of the problem lies. Education is all about teaching the mind and learning various skills and knowledge and these include academics, life skills, analytical skills, leadership skills and more.
Education should liberate a child’s thinking, allow them to question the status quo, think creatively and look for solutions to problems that may arise. Learners should learn to think about their thinking – critical, creative, convergent, divergent – and know what type of thinking is needed to solve different tasks, problems, challenges.
This is what will give them the skills to be problem solvers and creative thinkers. Since this has been my core belief, I have worked towards embedding principles of Neuroscience, energy science and Habits of the Mind in the Korroboree International Online School curriculum itself, so that we empower children to become independent thinkers and self-leaders.
Lina Ashar believes that the the future of learning and work is digital
Tell us more about Korroboree International Online School?
Korroboree International Online School is our response to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Technology has accelerated the rate at which things around us are changing. With this continuous uncertainty, we at Korroboree, are working towards protecting children from some of the pitfalls this unprecedented development can bring.
At the same time, we will teach them life skills that will allow them to thrive in a world that will have a lot of promise, for those that have learned to harness distraction, and make the correct choices to shape their own destinies. Our aim is to create an environment that encourages children to question the status quo, and help them think beyond and find solutions. It is a space where children feel free to ask questions.
At Korroboree our teachers are called cheerleaders as they are here to act as facilitators and encourage children to become self-directed and independent learners. We exist to give high quality and high value learning at a low price.
We recognise that the future of learning & work is digital. Korroboree International online school allows everywhere learning so learning is never disrupted no matter where you and your child are. We are a Board affiliated school. Pearson Edexcel is a worldwide recognised qualification built on the UK educational system and accepted by universities worldwide for more than 150 years.
Here is a school that makes sure learning is fun, meaningful, engaging, exciting & effective.
What makes it different from other online education systems?
KOS has been created for the world your child will enter as an adult. A world in which imagination, media literacy and emotional literacy, design thinking, and adaptive, critical and creative thinking will be of utmost importance.
A world in which generalised learning which is defined by the Board standards… is not only met but exceeded to include what will be required so that your child has the skills, thinking and imagination to create the future he or she wants.
Our active learning design includes real-world simulations and real-world problem solving and is uniquely designed to ignite curiosity & for learners to see learning as an adventurous quest.
Korroboree is the most innovative learning experience available in India. It is designed so that children can examine the status quo and question it, where they develop strategic ways of thinking & are involved in collaborative problem solving with other learners.
I’ve read a quote where you have said that we need to shift from teaching to learning, can you elaborate on that?
Teaching according to me uses one-way communication or like a monologue where the teacher imparts information. This process is boring and more often than not it is seen that children are bored or unable to grasp what is being taught.
Learning on the other hand is a process where the teacher becomes a facilitator and creates situations to explain the concept and children tend to learn while doing the activity or thinking about how to solve the given situation.
As per neuroscience children learn and retain information faster and for a longer time when they are engaged and they can experience the same. Hence, I believe that we need to move from teaching to learning.
According to Lina Ashar parents today are looking for better futuristic options when it comes to educating their kids
Are parents more open to online schooling post the pandemic or was it difficult to convince them?
Parents have now experienced what schooling can be done effectively online as well and they have been receptive to the idea. Post the pandemic parents have started looking at online schools as an option too and they tend to pick the best school according to them irrespective of the medium.
Parents are realising that our current methods are outdated or will become redundant by the time their children complete their education and so they are looking for better futuristic options. We started Kangaroo Kids with 10 kids and sold at 149 schools, Billabong High International School with 24 kids and we had 20 schools at the time of sale – “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference” – Robert Frost
How is online schooling different from homeschooling?
Homeschooling is an educational choice where parents take charge of their child’s learning from the comfort of their homes. The child is not enrolled in a formal school however, he/she continues with his/her education at home under parental guidance.
At the moment homeschooling is not regulated by an authority in India, however, students under homeschooling can take tests under IGCSE or NIOS boards.
Online schooling is the new mode of imparting education. It is a formal education system that uses the online space as a medium to impart education using the internet. Since it is a formal model of education, trained teachers are involved in teaching children. The learner uses their home computers and accesses the study material through an online portal. This mode of education saves time, money and resources as a physical gathering is not required.
In a way, Online schools are a solution for parents who prefer to homeschool or do not want to send their children to a formal school. As parents can leave the hard work of facilitating a class and teaching concepts to trained teachers, the content is available and parents need not go searching for it or create it themselves and our online schools are certified.
How has your association with Baby Chakra been?
Babychakra is a platform that assists would-be mothers and young mothers with their queries and requirements by bringing experts on board. This space has always been of great support, where I have been able to help many parents with their queries about parenting and education and it’s always a pleasure to interact with Naiyya and the team.
What message would you like to give parents who are interested in online school for their kids?
Dear Parents, education is all about educating the mind and not just about academics and competition. Each child has their own strengths and weaknesses and personalising education according to their requirements is the need of the hour. The internet helps us personalise this experience with the various tools that are available making learning fun, engaging and an enjoyable experience. Online schools are also cost-effective and save time and energy as well.
Online schooling will be the next big trend and here is your chance to big your child the first movers’ advantage. If you are looking for an online school then look for a school whose curriculum is designed to be executed online and one that focuses on academic and life skills equally we are the solution.
School learning is standardised in content and assessment and takes an entire day to complete. Our accelerated learning system takes half the time a school does, covers academic content, habits of success, life mastery and self mastery.
Learners complete each session creating value from what they have covered by synthesising it into something they create. They gain back half a day to pursue other things that interest them and therefore begin to create their own unique copyright. The future belongs to those that have developed a unique cross section of skills and interests.
Lina Asahr wants to help children and parents find their Ikigai
Tell us about your role on the Advisory Board.
I have been in the education space for over 30+ years and parents have always come to me with all kinds of queries and questions regarding parenting and education. I hence decided to share my expertise and wrote two books and have been associated with many platforms. I have known Naiyya for a very long time and it is my pleasure to be part of the Advisory board of Babychakra.
It would be my pleasure to help children and parents find their Ikigai (Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means your ‘reason for being‘) and then help them pursue it. I believe that when we find our purpose in life and work around strengthening the same, we work with joy and happiness and lead contented lives and this also helps us become the best versions of ourselves.
What do you plan to achieve through it and what difference do you want to make?
I was fortunate to have found my purpose / Ikigai very early on in my life and I am grateful that I could use it in my professional life as well. My Ikigai is to help children find their Ikigai and with my association with BabyChakra, I would like to help children and parents find their Ikigai and be able to pursue it.
I want the Dreamtime Learning design to be available to any school or parent, to excite everyone about what engaged, exciting, meaningful, relevant learning looks like and what authentic, real assessment is.