Meet the HundrED Team: Rakhi Leela Nair, Head of Projects
We are happy to welcome a new addition to the HundrED Team, Rakhi Leela Nair! Rakhi is our new Head of Projects. She is responsible for working with the whole team in order to deliver both external and internal projects.
Tell us a little about yourself
Hello! I am Rakhi and I am from India. I recently moved to Helsinki after completing my master’s in Education Technology from University College London. As someone who loves to experience new places and culture, I am super excited to explore the Finnish way of life.
An added motivation to be in Finland is certainly its education system, which is a pioneer in so many ways! I have always been passionate about bringing changes in education, especially around democratisation of education and holistic learning. My journey towards building awareness around these began when I was in my undergraduate degree in Engineering, where I was part of an organisation called Make a Difference that worked towards bringing about quality education in shelter homes. Over the years, I worked in both technology and educational organisations that have helped deepen my understanding of the complex challenges that education systems face and the opportunities that innovation and technology can provide to solve them.
In my free time, I love to travel, do yoga or simply curl up with a book.
Why do you want to work at HundrED?
What attracted me most about HundrED is the impact that it aims to achieve by helping every child flourish. Right from the time of my undergraduate degree to my last job at Teach for India, it’s this impact that I wanted to see in the education space that gave me a sense of purpose and drove my decisions. These experiences helped me see the enormous gap we have in various aspects of a child’s learning, be it social-emotional learning or building creativity and collaboration. Even though there are brilliant innovations that can bridge these gaps, it is not an easy process for the various stakeholders in the education system to sift through and find the right innovation that would suit their problem and context. Hence, I see a great value in HundrED’s rigorous selection process to identify the best innovations and provide a platform for the innovations to be highlighted. It is a great and easy resource for the various stakeholders in the education system to reach out to, without them having to do the heavy lifting of the research.
Additionally, with HundrED forming strong partnerships with some of the best international organisations, we have the potential to bring about impact at a much bigger scale and hence it’s exciting for me to be able to be a part of that impact.
Why should we change our schools?
I think we have always approached schools with an underlying assumption that it answers what a child would need. But, we lacked clarity on what questions about our children’s needs were our schools answering. Hence, we need to critically think about the questions we need to ask to understand the solution that is school. Additionally, a state of inertia characterised our school systems, adapting very slowly in an otherwise fast-paced world. We had to have a wake-up call in the form of a pandemic to push us to adapt with unprecedented agility!
We need to bring into practice a reimagined system that would cater to the needs of the 21st-century learner, and one that can transcend geographical as well as socio-economic boundaries. Hence, our schools will need to underpin their value contribution through learning theories for a digital age, blending the physical and the digital spaces with a strong foundation on value systems, self-directed and connected learning, and 21st-century skills.
Why is innovation in education crucial today?
Innovation was always present in education but it happened progressively and slowly. Today, they are increasingly shaped by digital technologies and recently we have seen how different innovations could address the long-dormant concerns in education. We have traditionally put all the onus on governmental and school systems to solve all these challenges. Even though they are important stakeholders in this system, the plethora of problems that we face, and the ambitious vision that we have for our children, we need to rethink our approach and look for new and contextualised ways to solve problems collaboratively, engaging diverse stakeholders. Hence, the need for innovations has never been greater. We need innovations to address the expanding educational inequities in the world, equip the children with the skills needed for the 21st century, and enable them to think critically and act compassionately in the digital age. At the same time, we need ecosystems that encourage innovations as well as communities and platforms that enable the innovations to be seamlessly implemented.
Three HundrED innovations you love
Think Equal: promotes social and emotional learning in the early childhood education space. It is so relevant and crucial in the current socio-political context!
Scratch: uses coding to promote creativity, collaboration, and reasoning skills. Here’s an innovation that walks the talk on 21st-century skills.
Design for Change: Simplifies the entire design process into 4 simple, yet meaningful steps of Feel, Imagine, Do, Share. I love that the innovation underpins the concept of Design as a change agent and the mindset of “I can”, both of which I believe are very crucial in building a generation who are compassionate as well as resilient.
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