School re-openings a positive sign for children’s publishing: Scholastic  

Staying inside a confined space for a long period of time without interacting with peers can lead to anxiety and other behavioural disorders. There has to be a balance of routines for children

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The opening up of schools and other educational institutions is a positive sign for the future of children's publishing, notes Neeraj Jain, the MD of Scholastic India, a large publisher of children's books in the country.

"Children's publishing has always been an area of publishing that tends to be overlooked amongst adult trade publishing. However, the fact that we are a young nation is a clear indicator for its future. We are already seeing a tremendous hunger for children's books created due to the events of 2020. A noticeable trend is the way authors, illustrators and people from the fraternity have been promoting the importance of books. The opening up of schools and other educational institutions in the next few months is a very positive sign for the future of children's publishing," Jain told IANSlife, when asked about the possible post-pandemic bounce-back in children's publishing.

Scholastic has recently launched a language improvement programme, Scholastic Super English, for developing language proficiency in kids of grades 3-8.

An IANSlife interview with Neeraj Jain:

Q: The pandemic has been a difficult time for children in school, with learning going completely online. As a children-focused publisher, how have school closures and e-learning reflected on Scholastic?

A: We at Scholastic took this time to support the school in the online delivery of education by conducting professional development for teachers, giving teachers and students free access to digital resources and e-libraries such as Bookflix and LitPro Library, and supporting schools with digitized curriculum content. We conducted sessions for students through our authors to support their learning journey. Currently, we are working closely with a select group of school leaders to identify the learning gaps that would have occurred in this period and working out possible solutions to address the same. The timely launch of an online language improvement program - 'Scholastic Super English' helped students build communication and critical thinking skills thereby helping them excel in academics.

Q: What, according to you, have been the major downsides and upsides of online classes for a child?

A: Children require social interaction from an early age to grow up to be well-adjusted human beings. With virtual classes, children do not get to interact with their teacher on a one-to-one basis. Staying inside a confined space for a long period of time without interacting with peers can lead to anxiety, temper tantrums, and other behavioural disorders. There has to be a balance of routines for children. They are also being exposed to excessive screen time which leads to tired eyes, sleep deprivation, foggy mind and in some cases, obesity.

The biggest advantage of an online class is that the children get access to the best teachers anywhere in the country. It has opened up a myriad of horizons for millions of students who long for better quality education but had to do with whatever was available at their end. Also, the cost of education and infrastructure is contained so a student can get access to quality education at a lesser cost and reduce the wastage of transportation time and actually deliver highly productive lessons.


Q: For Scholastic, book fairs in schools are a regular touchpoint children look forward to. How do you expect to bring them back following all necessary Covid-19 protocols?

A: Scholastic's commitment to children, parents, and educators has been seen for 100 years now. We have encountered many challenges over the decades. Topical, relevant and fun books that appeal to all types of interests along with new product lines will be the flavor, as has always been. Our operations stand at the ready to comply with all safety protocols to ensure the reading journey doesn't stop.

Q: Children pick up many language and communication skills while interacting with each other in-person. How has that taken a hit and how will the Scholastic Super English program help?

A: Communication is not limited to speaking and writing. Communication is an amalgamation of body language and listening, speaking and writing. Our newest edtech initiative, Scholastic Super English is designed in a way that it provides the child a platform to interact with like-minded peers and express their opinions freely. There is one coach with six children in a safe space. Children are encouraged to engage in healthy discussions with the coach as a facilitator. Each module has a balance of questions that teach the child vocabulary and grammar in context and comprehension skills that are extremely important to learn when decoding a text.

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