Meet Ashutosh Aggarwal; Founder of Sanskriti the Gurukul (STG)
Set amidst lush green hills, on the outskirts of Guwahati city is Sanskriti the Gurukul (STG) – the only day boarding school of North East India. The school is the brainchild of Ashutosh Aggarwal, the Founder and Secretary of STG.
Born in Ludhiana, Punjab, Ashutosh Aggarwal did his schooling from Don Bosco High School, Guwahati and went on to study at DAV College, Chandigarh where he pursued Pre-University and Pre-Engineering education. He further went on to acquire a BE degree in Mechanical Engineering (Hons) from Thapar Institute of Engineering & Technology, Patiala (Punjabi University).
Ashutosh Aggarwal is the son of Smt Nirmal Aggarwal, who was the founder principal of three schools of Guwahati - Tarun Ram Phookan (NF Railway), Shishu Niketan and Happy Child High School, in the early 1960s and 70s. Talking about his venture into the field of education, Ashutosh said, “I was raised up in an atmosphere where discussions were only in terms of education and how education can change the face of the country. My mother was undoubtedly my first inspiration to pursue my career as an educationist.”
Talking to G Plus about the inception of Sanskriti the Gurukul, he said that the school was conceived in the year 2000 when technology was paving its way into the city at a fast pace but the city schools weren’t changing accordingly. The schools were a typical lot without proper infrastructure, and limited to completing the curriculum for the board exams. So, Ashutosh decided to bring about a change to the prevailing scenario and thus STG was born.
Ashutosh’s work in the field of education has received acclamation far and wide. He received a Leadership Award in 2008 from EQFI for being the top leader among private schools in India. He has also received the prestigious White Swan Award for being the Most Influential Leader 2015-16. Apart from these, under his guidance, the school has also received many awards at regional as well as national level. Ashutosh is also the co-founder of the ATELIER, a unique exploratory and experiential school based at Bangaluru and Guwahati.
Having been associated with the field of education for such a long time, Ashutosh dreams of an overall change in the education system of the country. He says, “We need to have a school system which recognises that learning is natural and the love of learning is normal. We need a school system that values questions above answers, creativity above facts memorization, and individuality above uniformity. Education is no longer a visa to get jobs because the assessment system presently is creating a generation who are unwilling to take risks. Sadly, all the stakeholders are busy catering to standardized assessment systems, as the so-called “success” is measured in terms of percentage. But what actually correlates with success are not grades, but ‘engagement’ and ‘explorations’ on the topics discussed in class,” he further added.
In the same vein, he pointed out that there is a need to come out of “teach to test” method of learning since education is a privilege and cannot be ultimately measured or reduced to selecting the right response to MCQs. Rather, education must prepare young people for an unknowable, ambiguous and rapidly changing future.
Talking about the current scenario of Assam in the field of education, he said, “I believe Guwahati is at par with the rest of the country in terms of quality education, especially with the number of new schools which have come up over the last decade and every school trying its utmost best to implement the best systems and principles in education for the benefit of the students. The only thing lacking is the exposure which students in the metros have on day to day aspects of life. Apart from that, I still believe SEBA is more attuned to the cultural ethos of Assam, but they need to fine tune their systems to be at par with the rest of the country.”
Ashutosh Aggarwal also expressed his thoughts on the difference that he observes in the schooling of his time and said that he doesn’t observe much difference except the replacement of blackboards with smart-boards. He elaborated saying that the assessment system is still the same but the competition level has gone so high that a student feels insecure about his admission even after scoring as high as 97%. “But the most drastic difference is that most students nowadays are aware of a lot more things than we were at their age. With the blessings of Professor Google & Ma’am YouTube, adolescence now comes 5 to 6 years advanced compared to our times.”
Ashutosh Aggarwal enjoys teaching maths and loves to be a quizmaster. Apart from being an educationist, he’s a traveller and a fun loving person. Ashutosh loves to travel to new places and in his bucket list of places to visit is a cruise to Antarctica.