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Major role of AI in Early Childhood Education

An exclusive interview with Jitendra Karsan, Chairman of Safari Kid, India

By D.Raghavendra for ET TECH X TIMES, February 27, 2024

It was a great pleasure to interview the enthusiastic and dynamic head of Safari Kid, India. Known for his incessant journey in the ever-evolving field of education, Jitendra Karsan, is the chairman of Safari Kid, India.

His involvement in entrepreneurship and dedication to shaping young minds has helped him leave an indelible mark in early childhood education.  

In India, Safari Kid’s growth has been spearheaded by Mr.Jitendra, a visionary leader who has successfully established 11 centers in key cities across the country.

A JBIMS alumnus, he believes that students are ready to adopt the technology yet there are numerous opportunities to make learning a better experience.

In this interview, we will delve further into his journey as an edupreneur, his insights on the evolving roles of technology and artificial intelligence in the education sector.

Please share a brief introduction of Safari Kid and let us know about your journey and vision.
Safari Kid’s journey started in 2005 in Silicon Valley, California. Its founding mission was to provide kids with a place where they can receive exceptional early education and be set on a path filled with unlimited opportunities and success. Guided by this mission, Safari Kid has expanded to more than 50 centers across the US, Canada, and India and emerged as a beacon of innovative learning and cutting-edge educational practices.

What’s your take on the use of technology in early childhood classrooms?
Technology can never be a replacement for traditional learning methods. It needs to be viewed with an innovative approach and used strategically to enhance and enrich the learning experience for children. Interactive and engaging educational apps, digital storytelling, and age-appropriate games can be used to foster a love for learning early on. It can also be employed to create personalized learning solutions based on individual needs. While technology offers numerous benefits, blending it correctly with traditional learning requires regular review and adjustment. It involves understanding the impact of technology on children’s minds, monitoring screen time, and ensuring that digital tools are adding value to the educational experience. It’s about finding the perfect formula that prepares children for school and also for life in a digital age.

What are your predictions for the Role of AI in the next 5-10 years?
Adding to the point I made earlier, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technology will be increasingly used to create learning systems and aids that suit each student’s learning style and pace. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) applications can be used to make abstract concepts tangible through immersive learning experiences. Streamlining and automating grading and feedback systems can help gather data-driven insights to identify areas of improvement and reform teaching strategies. AI will also help personalize learning across all age groups and help teachers plan student specific learning materials. The same can be applied to administrative and management aspects, enhancing efficiency and facilitating continuous development.

What inspired you to become an edupreneur?
My career in the education sector began after my daughter was born. She started experiencing some learning difficulties at an early age. When I started exploring schools and researching the curriculum and teaching methodologies prevalent at the time, I was disappointed. I learned that the educational framework in India was based on a cookie-cutter approach that did not cater to children with special needs. I identified gaps in the system and saw an opportunity to contribute to the field of early childhood education. I envisioned a learning environment that caters to the unique needs and learning styles of every child, and Safari Kid India is a physical manifestation of the same.

What is the edge your school has over other players in early childhood education?
Excellence is doing the right thing, everytime. We are driven to create high end preschools with excellent standards recognised globally. We focus on both the child as well as the parents’ journey of early years. For a parent a good school should not only tick all the tangible boxes like preschool design, materials used, the quality of furniture and fixtures but equally important are intangible things like safety, security, hygiene and the level of care we provide at each and every center at Safari Kid. We strive to be measured by our top of the line experience at every touch point of our center from the entrance gate to the classroom and even at digital touch points.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to make a positive impact in early childhood education?
The early childhood education space is going through an unprecedented shift, and the sector is set for remarkable growth in the upcoming years. To anyone who wishes to invest in this sector, I would like to say that there hasn’t been a better time to make the move. An entrepreneur in this space or an eduprenuer, if you will, needs to be driven by the passion to make a positive difference. As Safari Kid expands further and seeks new franchise partners, we look for passionate individuals with forward-thinking and adaptable mindsets to cope with the dynamic changes in the early education landscape. This is an exciting time for us and we look forward to joining hands with fellow changemakers.

Which emerging and creative technologies Safari Kid playschool is using to make the learning environment easier for children and to enhance their skills naturally?
We use a lot of tech in our schools, including apps for parent communication, school administration and lesson plan. Our teachers, too, use technology for daily and monthly projects which in turn helps the learners to enhance their skills. Simple programmable bots and toys are used for children to acquire and sharpen logical thinking. We also use legotronics, robotics as special enrichment programmes.

What is your long-term vision for Safari Kid?
We are currently in an ambitious expansion stage looking to establish centers in every major city in India. We have been emphasizing from the beginning that we want to deliver high-quality early education to parents who understand and value its importance. The continuous rise of new mini-metros in various states is leading to a growth in demand for high-quality education. Apart from our growth in Metros, our recent entry into the Tier 2 city of Raipur is clear evidence of the growing demand. In line with our commitment, we are determined to extend our presence to meet the growing needs in every city that calls for it.

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