“All progress happens in uncertain times”

- Ozan Varol, Law Professor, Author & Scientist

The COVID-19 pandemic, over the last five and a half months, through sickness, tragedy, hardship, struggle, inconvenience has also stressed the many “leadership opportunities” that exist for us to identify and use to our advantage. The pandemic challenges status quo and has called for individuals, families, communities, organisations, industries, states and countries to look at ways in which they can reinvent themselves; not just to survive but to look at how to become outliers which in turn will allow them to stay ahead of their competition.

With the world experiencing volatility, complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity [VUCA] like never before along with an accelerated rate of obsolescence in jobs, technology and knowledge largely caused by the exponential growth in artificial intelligence, machine learning and bio-engineering calls for an urgent paradigm shift in the way schools across the globe operate.

Instead of preparing students for jobs, many of which may not even exist when they graduate, schools must focus on preparing students for life. A recently published report by McKinsey shows that 6 out 10 currently existing occupations have more than 30% activities that are technically automatable. Further, close to 375 million individuals will need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills by 2030. Likewise, BBC reports that by 2030, robot automation is likely to take away 600 million jobs that currently exist.

Keeping this in mind, schools should ensure the curriculum focuses on the concept, relevance and development of an entrepreneurial mindset in every child as well 21st century competencies like innovation, resilience, critical thinking, creativity, grit and empathy.

Innovation is the #1 vaccine against COVID-19 that will help individuals and organisations gain competitive advantage. In fact, even the recently published National Education Policy 2020 stresses on the need for holistic development in every child and calls for schools to focus on competencies rather than on rote learning.

At Indus, we have over the years made a conscious effort to build a strong innovation culture. To further strengthen this, we have set up The Indus Start-up School since we believe students should be start-up ready when they graduate from school.

The Start-up School is not a business school, although it provides students the choice of being a business entrepreneur.

Strategically, it encompasses a larger and more profound idea expressed by the economist and Nobel laureate, Muhammad Yunus, “All human beings are entrepreneurs.”

In its wider perspective, we are talking about life entrepreneurship, a concept that enables an individual to be start-up ready- an outlier, an exponential leader, an individual who is a lifelong learner, one who can adapt to continuous change, uncertainty and volatility; and possesses the competencies to re-skill and re-invent oneself.

The Start-up School is an experiment based on a certain set of assumptions.

It will see students from Grades 9-12 volunteer to be a part of a dual programme, where they pursue both their IB curriculum as well as the Start-up School curriculum. The latter will include life, leadership, business and technical competency development which will be delivered through a variety of medium including experiential, collaborative and self-directed learning.

Another USP of Indus is the strong school-parent partnership and this once again emerges here as well. In their start-up journey, the selected students will be mentored and coached by Indus parents who themselves are successful entrepreneurs. What an incredible opportunity this is for our young entrepreneurs where they get to shadow, observe and learn from the very best in the industry!

We are very confident of the success of The Indus Start-up School but realise that the key to its success will lie in a robust feedback and monitoring mechanism which allows for immediate changes and adjustments that in turn will ensure children are future ready. More than anything, what the children learn and in turn become because of their effort and experience is as important, if not more than how successful their start-up company will be.

The Indus Start-up School is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and is in sync with the Indus philosophy of preparing students for all challenges not just to survive but thrive in a future which we do not know.