top of page
  • Writer's pictureSushmita Roy

Driving Change in Early Childhood Education: A Conversation with Vinay Chand, Program Manager at RL

Updated: Sep 8

In 2019, when the co-founders met Vinay Chand, Rocket Learning was just beginning to take form. Vinay had finished his master's degree in Rural Development from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and he had been thinking about the various sectors he could choose from in the social impact world. He believed that improving education in rural or low-income neighborhoods would solve most of India's problems, including poverty.

But as a recent graduate, he had to think of working in a lucrative field that does not fall prey to recession. Hailing from a family of businessmen, he discussed the economic prospects of ed tech with his family. Education, they decided, will never witness a fall in demand as long as humans exist.

For Rocket Learning's co-founders, Vinay was a perfect fit. He attended government schools in Uttar Pradesh until graduating high school. He knew the challenges and opportunities of public education intimately and was passionate about driving a community-led movement.

Once Vinay hopped on board, there was no turning back for him. As Rocket Learning turns three this year, we sat down with Vinay, one of the first Rocket Learning team members, to learn about his journey and launch the #DriversofECCE series.

Q. You were one of the first hires at Rocket Learning. Did you anticipate how quickly the organization will scale in such a short time?

I joined Rocket Learning before our launch in 2020. At the time, the co-founders sat in small cubicles in a co-working space, brainstorming ideas, coming up with pitches, and making community visits. It took me and the experts at Siksha Vibhag (Department of Basic Education, Uttar Pradesh) some time to understand Rocket Learning's model because it was a completely new concept. All I knew was I would deliver on whatever they had asked because the intention here was right.

Then, six months later, Namya (one of the co-founders) asked, “What do you think now? Are we headed for success?

I told her, "We'll grow at rocket speed, just like our name suggests!"

But to tell you honestly, I never knew we would snowball, but even I didn’t think we would reach 180 employees in just three years!

Q. What are some challenges you faced in your journey at Rocket Learning?

Obviously, there were hurdles in our journey. Initially, when we used to travel to underdeveloped villages and approached Anganwadis or preschools in 2019 and the first half of 2020, we didn't have an official letter yet. I remember thinking, “We are working so hard on the ground; just one official letter could change it all.” But now that we have that, I don't see a pressing challenge in my daily work.

In any case, I am a solutions-oriented person. When we approach Anganwadi workers and tell them about our model, their first question is always: what problem of mine are you solving? Because they are already overwhelmed and want to understand how joining our program isn't just another task in their exhaustive list of duties but a necessary solution to their daily challenges. I have adopted the same approach: I do not fret when faced with a challenge but immediately start thinking about solutions.

Q: Tell us about some memorable experiences during your travels.

I have two stories; one from the district I was managing and the other from Varanasi. An Anganwadi worker in Varanasi showed our content to the children on television at her Anganwadi. This incident happened even before we launched our early childhood education program in Uttar Pradesh (we were only working in FLN or primary schools). To see that our content had reached there without having to even promote it or mandate it meant that we were doing something right.

Another incident occurred when we launched an RCT (Randomized Control Trial) in Lucknow. We went to do the surveys, see the study results, and understand the impact. At the time, I remember getting really emotional because I couldn't stop thinking about how four people in small cubicles somewhere far away were planning the content that was reaching children in the remotest corners of Lucknow. This incident also happened during the COVID-19 phase, and this teacher was showing our content to children at her home (the only place they gathered to study every day). So, just seeing the impact of all our hard work that day still keeps me going.

Read More: Helping India Achieve the World’s First Universal High- Quality Education Ecosystem

Q: What change would you like to see in the country in the next five years?

Undoubtedly, there have been notable improvements, such as the launch of Poshan Bhi Padhai Bhi, that has generously allocated resources for teacher learning materials. However, we still need to channel more funding and attention towards early childhood education.

I also want to see a shift in mass awareness and active parental involvement. While the government has launched hundreds of programs to ensure access to education, the challenge is parents’ mindset. Many parents mistakenly assume their responsibility ends once they enroll their child in a school. But we know this is far from the truth, particularly for young children.

I hope to see a transformation in the mindset of our community and nation, where parents truly recognize the tireless efforts, we put in to ensure that their children receive high-quality education. I want them to realize their role and responsibility in shaping their children's educational journey.

101 views0 comments
bottom of page