Arun Kapur is an educator with more than 4 decades of experience in the private as well as public education spheres.He has been actively engaged in building learning environments catering to a diverse group of learners – rural and urban, students with special needs, and students who have fallen outside of the formal schooling system.
Mr. Kapur’s very first experience as a teacher was at the Doon School, Dehradun. Thereafter, he taught in the United Kingdom and on his return to India was the Principal of the British School, Delhi. Since Vasant Valley School was conceived, in the late 1980’s, he has been at its helm, as the first Head of School and currently as the Director of the school.
It is under the leadership of Mr. Kapur that Vasant Valley School has consistently been ranked amongst the very best co-educational day schools in the country. The School is renowned for its high academic standards as well as for its focus on the all-round development of the students. Mr. Kapur works actively towards the ‘wholistic’ growth of all students. This term is of his own coining and expresses his vision of helping students actualise their full potential in all aspects of life, not just cerebrally. Children at Vasant Valley School are nurtured to make the best use of their skills and strengths.
Mr. Kapurwas also the Executive Director of Learn Today, which was the education division of the India Today Group. Set up in 2000, Learn Today worked towards the development and implementation of high-quality learning technologies and methods in the private and government schooling system. Learn Today was also involved in school audits and school improvement programmes. Advocacy and policy inputs for progressive educational development were another important area of focus.
Apart from his work with Vasant Valley School and Learn Today, Arun Kapur is the Chairman of Ritinjali, a non-governmental organization he set up in 1995.Ritinjali works for community development through education and employment opportunities among marginalized societies across India. Through education, both formal and vocational, the organisation has empowered youth on the fringes of our education system and given them a second chance.
Over the last 18 years, Mr. Kapur has been working through Ritinjali on a variety of initiatives and with varied community groups in many educational and development related endeavors. While based in Delhi, Ritinjali’s efforts have reached areas as far-flung as Rajasthan, Tripura, Meghalaya, Gujarat, Orissa, Karaikal, Kargil, Leh, Bihar and Uttaranchal.
Ritinjali’s work with the government schools of Delhi and Rajasthan complements its mission of providing quality education through the rejuvenation of the government schooling system. Ritinjali is providing quality educationto marginalized children in various slum clusters in Delhi. Ritinjali’s Second Chance School in Mahipalpur, New Delhi, a school for young adults who were deprived of a chance at education, provides vocational training, apprenticeship and entrepreneurship development programmes as well as schooling through the National Indian Open School system. Ritinjali’s work inmainstreaming young people, who are on the periphery of society and giving them a second chance at living lives of honor and dignity, has been very successful.
Mr. Kapur initiated Ritinjali’s work in Tihar Jail, New Delhi, which is Asia’s largest jail. Ritinjali is involved in providing free legal aid and conducting counseling, rehabilitation and income generating activities for juveniles and women inmates and their children in Jails 5 and 6 respectively. The jail authorities have acknowledged these efforts and Ritinjali was awarded the “Best NGO of the Year Award” in 2003. Ritinjali’s Night School is an evening programme that imparts basic education and life skills training to boys who work as coolies at the INA Market, New Delhi.
In 2001, Mr. Kapur started Pallavan, a chain of Pre-Schools spread over the National Capital Region. There are currently three branches and the Pallavan Pre-Schools have consistently been among the top play schools in the capital city.
In 2006, Mr. Kapur founded Pallavanjali, an organisation dedicated to promoting inclusive education responding to the diverse needs of all learners. The ultimate objective of Pallavanjali is to design, develop, sustain and replicate a paradigm of inclusive education for all learners. To achieve this goal, Pallavanjali runs a School, an Open School (accredited by NIOS), an Intervention Centre (to identify and assess the child’s special needs at the earliest stages of development), and also conducts programmes for Career Training.
Pallavan in Jhalawar, Rajasthan is another institution set up by Mr. Kapur,which is proof of how high-qualityeducation based on ‘wholistic’ development can be provided in a rural setting. Set up in July 2008, the school caters to students largely from Jhalawar and the adjoining districts. It has adopted cutting-edge educational practices and technology, rooted in Indian culture and traditions. Its aim is to promote global citizenship in the context of the changing world scenario.
He is also the Executive Director of Pallavan Learning Systems, an organization that promotes learning in its diverse forms. It specializes in creating education centres of excellence with innovative learning spaces and systems so that learning takes place seamlessly. It develops curriculum that is holistic, focusing on five areas of development: cerebral, emotional, physical, social and spiritual; it also specializes in the professional development of educators who can use such curricula to encourage each learner to actualize their potential. Pallavan Learning Systems conducts research, seminars and conferences for creation and dissemination of new knowledge so that what it does remains current and relevant to the rapidly changing times. The organization has launched its first skilling centre, Pallavan Learning Centre in collaboration with the Directorate of Skill Development, Tripura in Agartala. The centre seeks to understand the aspirations of the people and strive towards creating a conducive environment for them to fulfill those by fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and offering skill training, educational counselling, and life skills programmes.
In 2013, Mr. Kapur established the Centre for the Escalation of Peace. As the Chairman and Founding Member of the organization, he has worked to create platforms and establish programmes, which encourage a free exchange of ideas across borders, with a distinct focus on empowering young minds. The work of the CEP revolves primarily around the three ‘pillars of calmness: Youth and Education, Trade & Sustainable Development and Society and Culture.Over the past five years, CEP has been convening various activities as a part of ‘The Thimphu Seminars’, which is the name of its engagement with Bhutan. Its ongoing India- Bhutan Dialogue (Track 1.5/2)is held every six months at a bilateral level and there is continued scope for such platforms being established with other countries in the future.
In the same year, Mr. Kapur co-founded the International Summer School, New Delhi and presently serves as its Principal Advisor. The ISS is an intensive, six-week academic programme that takes place at the Jamia Millia Islamia (A Central University) under the banner of the acclaimed ‘Incredible India’ campaign. Its purpose is to promote international goodwill and cultural understanding among tomorrow’s world leaders as they learn about India and its role in the twenty-first century.
Mr. Kapur has skillfully leveraged his numerous organizations to conduct programmes for students and teachers to develop and nurture in them the capacity for leadership that is tempered with compassion and serene strength. The endeavor is to create a network of future leaders who believe in peace and positivity and lead with the intention of a collective good. These programmes, such as the Asia-Pacific Schools Initiative and India-Bhutan Cultural Exchange and Art Camp build on the commonalities of different countries, nationalities, cultures and regional groups and at the same time instill a respect for diversity. At the same time, Mr. Kapur believes in dynamism and staying relevant and effective. With that in mind, the organizationsconduct regular conferences and seminars, such as the Philosophers’ Retreat and School Leaders’ Retreat that bring together people from diverse backgrounds to have an authentic dialogue on topical issues. These programmes that encourage a free exchange of ideas across borders, professions and age groups are designed to achieve two important aspects: appreciating our individual differences in our shared commonalities and holding an informed discussion to co-create new knowledge.
Additionally, Mr. Kapurhas contributed to multiple forums on education planning and policy formulation and been actively involved in various Education Committees set up at the State, as well as at National level. He has been a Member of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), as well as the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT). He hasalso worked as Member of the National Advisory Committee (NAC) set up under the Right to Education Act, 2009 as well as the Executive Committee of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).He is currently a Member of the Chief Minister’s Advisory Council, Rajasthan working in the areas of Education and Skill Development.
Mr. Kapur currently spends his time between India and the Kingdom of Bhutan. He is the Director of The Royal Academy, an initiative of His Majesty the King of Bhutan. The Royal Academy is an educational institution that focuses on the all-round development of learners through a continuously evolving curriculum. The curriculum at the Royal Academy is based on Mr. Kapur’s concept of the ‘five areas of development’, first expressed in his book ‘Leading Out’ (2011). The five areas of development framework endeavors to promote the ‘wholistic’ development of all learners and help them actualize their potential and be leaders in their own rights. This vision of The Royal Academy is actualized through a continuously evolving curriculum and innovative pedagogy encapsulated in the inter-connected centres of the School, the Education Research centre and the Teacher Development centre. This unique learning framework has received worldwide acclaim and was chosen as one of the global innovations shaping the future of education by HundrED, a not for profit organization based in Finland.
Mr. Kapur’s acclaimed book, “Transforming Schools-Empowering Children” outlines the importance of a child-centered, dynamic approach in creating the best learning spaces. “Leading Out – the True Purpose of Education” describes the components of an education system that creates learners who are empowered to take on leadership roles – in classrooms, in communities, as well as on the world stage.
Mr. Arun Kapur has worked with all age groups and all sections of society. Widely read and widely travelled, his deep understanding of children and their needs, the innovations he has introduced, and his belief that education is the best route to empowerment,have added immense value to the various projects he is associated with.