A Passionate Educator and a serial Entrepreneur, Shalini started her entrepreneurship journey with Aero Modelling and Robotics-based Hobby Club “FUNLAB” in 2012 in the IT hub and Silicon Valley of India Bangalore. She also co-founded Hicom, which is an IT & telecom company providing services to 500+ top international schools and corporates across India.
Shalini started her preschool brand “Hi Kalpaa” in line with NEP and the current digital revolution post-pandemic. She along with her core team members developed a unique award-winning curriculum after extensive research and analysis which is mainly focused on story and experiment based.
Hi Kalpaa is a preschool bolstered to provide children with experiential learning pedagogy. Going forward, the preschool also aims to introduce STEAM-based education from the early years. Shalini’s vision is to remain grounded and continue to be more focused on what Hi Kalpaa has created. Acting on the venture’s core values and rooted in its mission, Hi Kalpaa will strive to extend its footprints pan India over the next five years.
Shalini spoke to team WE and shed light on critical subjects such as early education, women’s entrepreneurship, and much more.
Explain the significance of hands-on learning in early education and the guiding principles for using technology with young children.
When it comes to education, a lot of emphasis is laid on ‘what’ one learns but learners, especially young children, seldom understand the relevance of 'how' they learn or where and when they can use their learnings in real life. I have always felt learning should be facilitated with real experiences - a perfect amalgamation of theoretical and practical education. That’s why we’re witnessing an accelerated adoption of hands-on learning which allows students to not only practice the skills they've learned but also find their real-life applications in the ever-competitive world.
When students are asked to do something, they are engaged in active learning. They’re practicing their critical thinking skills and they’re putting their knowledge to the test. Most importantly, this form of learning gives opportunities for students to actively create knowledge, instead of passively consuming it.
Furthermore, knowledge should always be created by experience and not consumed passively. While using technology I usually use a ‘3C’ principle
- Content- We have often demonized technology for exposing children to unfiltered content. But, if we can keep the content in check, technology can not only complement education but can also foster a great learning experience. Therefore, it's imperative to critically manage the content children are exposed to.
- Collaboration- Collaborate with children when they are watching something. Exposing them to technology collaboratively will help you understand the areas where a child might need help and where they can be independent.
- Curious questions: Do not leave any topic that the child learns through the mode of technology without asking them reflective questions. Give them avenues where the same can be connected to books and other reading resources and real-life evidence. Allow curiosity to build in them.
India has one of the highest numbers of women pursuing STEM education. However, this number drastically reduces in the workforce. In your opinion, where are we lacking in terms of bringing more women to be a part of the Indian STEM industry? How can this scenario be improved?
Globally, only 18% of girls in tertiary education are pursuing STEM studies compared to 35% of boys. Within the STEM fields also, women prefer to study life sciences and are less represented in majors like computer science and mechanical and electrical engineering
However, the situation isn’t so bleak now and there seems to be light peeping at the end of the tunnel. In the past few years, STEM has moved beyond being just a trendy hashtag and has gained major movement, encouraging more women to dip their feet in the field of science and technology.
In India, the scenario is comparatively better with nearly 43% of the total graduates in STEM being women - one of the highest in the world.
One of the most obvious reasons for the lack of women's participation in STEM is the pre-assigned gender roles which are stereotypical in nature. Lack of exposure, pressure to conform to societal norms, household responsibilities, and stress related to marriage and childbirth also play a major role in women backing out of advanced careers in science and technology domains.
In India, however, initiatives have been taken to promote women’s participation in this field. The scheme called Vigyan Jyoti was launched by the Department of Science & Technology to create a level-playing field for meritorious girls in high school to pursue STEM in their higher education.
Other initiatives like GATI and KIRAN are also great initiatives not only for empowering women in STEM education but also to promote their representation in these fields.
What is the future of women's entrepreneurship in India? Can you share some latest trends? Can you share the evolution and your experience as a Co-founder?
With the pace of the modern world, women in business are advancing. Indian women are now making a significant contribution to changing how Indian society is seen. Due to ongoing policies, educational programs, media access, and start-up culture, women are actively participating in the global entrepreneurial culture. One of the trending examples is Shark Tank India. I am really happy and inspired to see the increased number of women entrepreneurs in our country. What also inspires me is that my fellow entrepreneurs are willing to invest, guide and pave the path of their journey.
According to a report, more than 30 million additional women-owned enterprises are anticipated to create 150–170 million jobs by 2030. I have seen a lot of ease in business policies, loans, overdrafts, schemes, and funding. Above all, the acceptance of society for women in leadership roles has evolved.