Interview – Rustom Kerawalla, Chairman and Managing Director, Vibgyor High


Rustom Kerawalla, Chairman and Managing Director, Vibgyor High,primary focus is to provide quality education combined with professional management of schools in India. An alumnus of Manipal Institute of Technology, Mr. Kerawalla brings in 25 years of entrepreneurship. He is a visionary who envisaged that education in the 21st century should empower students to excel in our dynamically changing world. VIBGYOR High was instituted with this zealous pursuit of educating young minds to be torch-bearers of innovation and progress.  The educational philosophy of VIBGYOR High receives its direction from Mr Kerawalla’s belief that the academic programme should be oriented towards creating the best learning opportunities for students to maximise their potential to excel. , Through scripted curriculum, experiential and integrated learning, innovative methods of teaching and specialised management, Vibgyor High constantly endeavours to ensure holistic development of children with stronger knowledge base and better understanding. These thoughts and aspirations provide the genesis for VIBGYOR High Chain of Schools. Over the period of 10 years, with his abundant passion and experience in education, Mr. Kerawalla has successfully set up a chain of schools across seven cities of India. Today, Vibgyor High has 21 schools in India with more than 24,000 happy students.

VIBGYOR High is one of the leading chains of schools in India known for its quality education and academic excellence. Our institution offers a unique range of world-class educational services for the holistic development of students in curricular and co-curricular areas. Under the leadership of Mr. Rustom Kerawalla, Chairman and Managing Director of the institution, Vibgyor High is set to draw new horizons with 21 schools in seven major cities, reaching out to more than 24,000 students nationwide. With quality-driven systemic processes, a dedicated team of teaching and school administration professionals, we endeavour to provide the best educational opportunities to our students.

Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, Rustom Kerawalla says, “Today education is not confined to a set of books and conventional teaching methods; it has reached to a different paradigm wherein modern techniques are introduced. Experiential and integrated learning programme is an essential part of modern education system, and we have inculcated the same very fiercely in our curriculum.”

Give us a brief overview of the education industry. What are the changes taking place? 
Education industry is constantly evolving. The advent of technology has open plethora of opportunities both for schools and students. Today, parents can select from varied boards like the State Board, CBSE, ICSE, IGSE and IB for their children according to their requirements. Also there has been a shift from textbook to practical learning leading to a better understanding of subjects. I feel this is a great change and will definitely lead to shaping a child’s personality from a younger age.

With a new government at the Centre, what changes do you anticipate? 
New government has definitely led to major changes in education sector. Most anticipated changes will be cheaper loans for institutes and longer gestation and repayment period like they have in infrastructure projects. Also, I believe, with a change in governance there will be stress on vocational training.

Any recommendations for the Union budget? 
I would definitely recommend that Private institutes should be encouraged to finance the fees of deserving students on the basis of results and merit.

Comment on your number of schools and students. 
We have grown experientially over a period of 10 years. Today, we have 21 schools across India with over 24,000 students.

What are your expansion plans. How would they be funded? 
We plan to expand by having a school in major cities of India and providing quality education to the children. Our expansion plan will be funded by debt and also leasing of properties would assist in reduction of capital cost.

How do you go about creating self-scripted curriculum? 
Our curriculum has been developed after a careful study of the current and future trends in the education industry – educational needs of students, aims and objectives outlined by educational boards, existing practices and methodologies adopted, trends in educational technology, etc. This research was carefully intervened with the Vision & Mission of VIBGYOR High, enabling Student Centered learning, Activity based learning, Project based learning, Visual Auditory and Kinesthetic Modalities based learning.

As the curriculum was developed by experts, concentrated efforts were made to maintain high quality of lesson plans directed to achieve the learning objectives. This detailed scripted curriculum aids to maintain the uniformity in teaching standards through content delivered across all our centres.

You say academic excellence offers a diverse experiential and integrated learning programme. Could you explain?  
Today education is not confined to a set of books and conventional teaching methods; it has reached to a different paradigm wherein modern techniques are introduced. Experiential and integrated learning programme is an essential part of modern education system, and we have inculcated the same very fiercely in our curriculum. Also, I would like to stress that our curriculum is self-scripted by experts and educationalists, which gives us a higher edge in bringing different approaches of teaching into practice. Our teaching methodologies are based on the practical application of leading learning theories such as Dr. Howard Gardner’s Theory of multiple intelligences, Kolb’s Model of Experiential Learning, Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains and other recent teaching approaches.

Our Integrated curriculum model is based on the principle of subject interweaving, which help students to gain knowledge about one topic through different dimensions. Such as, study of a particular topic, like Social Science gets integrated with Social Studies, Environmental Education, Mathematics and Science. This enables students to understand a particular topic’s origin, history and its mathematical and scientific rationales at the same time.

Our classrooms are the learning laboratories for students, where they experiment and innovate, share and deliberate, lead and follow as they participate in activities. Our academic programme consists of a number of learning events such as Culminating Activity day, Buddy day, Talks from Guest speakers from diverse fields etc. providing an opportunity for students to learn more and perceive a different perspective about things in life.

Comment on the curriculum offered. What advice do you give students and a parent regarding which curriculum is best suited? 
We offer ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education), CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) and IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Examination) curricula. From the pre-primary years till middle school, we employ a curriculum framework that is thoughtfully crafted based on the principles of integrated learning. This curriculum is transacted through interdisciplinary learning modules which aids in strengthening students’ deeper understanding of the subject. These interdisciplinary learning modules are further augmented with several experiential learning activities such as educational trips, industrial exposure and domestic and international tours at regular intervals for our young scholars.

At the secondary school level, our curriculum is oriented towards the syllabi mapped out by the educational boards that prepare students for the end-of-school certifying examinations. Like the early years, at this stage too we adopt a learner-centric pedagogy that focuses on each student, their individual needs that includes academic, physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual growth.

Parents need to adjudge the curriculum based on the degree of opportunities it provides for learner-centric engagements. The Curriculum should be delivered through new-age teaching methodology which encourages the students to be active participants in the learning process, inspires them to think out of the box and equip them with self-learning skills.

You also have a structured curriculum for Sports & Performing Arts. What advantages do you see in this? 
We are recognized as one of the few schools in the country to have a structured programme for Sports & the Performing Arts. We believe that along with the academic rigor, a child should be given an equal opportunity to excel in extra-curriculum activities. These activities boost a high level of confidence amongst children and are the primary avenues of their overall personality development.

We offer a comprehensive self-curated Sports and Performing Arts curriculum developed, managed and delivered by a team of professionals.

We train our students in spectrum of athletic and artistic activities ranging from Fitness to Games, to swimming, football, cricket, basketball as well as Music, Dance, Speech and Drama. Due to constant emphasis and motivation towards child’s participation in numerous sports and cultural activities, many students today have developed interest in these fields and found their career options. The latest example is Master Sinan Adnani from VIBGYOR High Vadodara School, who has been selected to represent at the state level of U16 Basketball team.

What is student-Teacher Ratio? Do you expect it to remain this way for long? 
VIBGYOR High caters to the students from Pre-primary to Grade 12, with a student-teacher ratio of 10:1 across, on an average at the school level. The ratio is developed based on the current curriculum structure followed in our schools. We may re-look at the same if and when we plan to re-structure our curriculum model in order to ensure adequate focus is delivered towards each child’s growth & development.

What are the opportunities and challenges in the education industry? 
There is a lot of scope in education sector in India with the array of innovative and technology-based educational programmes being introduced. We at VIBGYOR High constantly strive to provide better quality of education to our students. One of the greater challenges is to break through the rote-learning teaching method, for which we have adopted experiential, integrated and other modern and interactive methods. This makes learning more interesting and fun for students. Our curriculum is self-scripted by the experts and best educationalists. Also, due to popularity and demand of international standards of education, there are infinite opportunities to make available a comprehensive education to foster talents of students.

Another challenge that the education industry faces is the mainstreaming of children with special needs. We at VIBGYOR High pride ourselves to have started off as an inclusive school right from the inception of our flagship school in Mumbai. We are equipped with a Resource Room operated by a team of well qualified Special Educators and Counsellors who work closely with these children and teachers.

How do you manage the demand for good teachers as supply remains an issue? 
At VIBGYOR High, we welcome teachers who are inclined towards expanding their existing bank of knowledge and competencies; teachers who are keen on team teaching and co-operative learning. The management of VIBGYOR High recognizes the importance of recruiting teachers who have been trained in educational pedagogy and teaching methodologies.

Harnessing the best from our academic staff and its continual monitoring, training and enrichment remains our cardinal agenda. With this point in view, we have developed a Quality Analysis and Diagnostic Framework to measure the extent the system effectively achieves its educational objectives. Teacher Training and Quality Assurance and Guidance Audit are the two inter-twined spine of this quality framework.

Through rigorous internal and external periodic trainings, we ensure the quality of education is always in line with VIBGYOR teaching standards.

Your message to parents while choosing a school? 
A detailed prospectus given by the school provides most of the information but I would urge parents to do their own research as well. A thorough research is mandatory, parents should be well aware of education trends, facilities provided, standard of teaching faculty, affiliation and the boards offered.

Comment on your financials. What is the ownership pattern? Any plans to sell stake? 
As an institute, selling of stake is not a legal or acceptable concept.