The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is pleased to announce Ms. Kiran Bir Sethi as the 2013 Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellow for Social Entrepreneurship. The Chicago Council is honoring Sethi as a Koldyke Fellow for her efforts to generate innovative solutions to challenges in India's schools, education system, and education policies, which have since become replicated globally. She is founder and director of The Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India, and founder of Design for Change, and aProCh.
Sethi's interest in education began when she observed the kind of education her son was being provided. She noticed that the word 'choice' did not exist in his vocabulary. Every time he deviated from the textbook or tried to take charge of his own learning, his teachers would punish him. She also realized that the same was true of most students in India.
Using her background as a designer, Kiran focused on identifying the right problem - an uninspired and irrelevant pedagogy and curriculum – before developing her solution – The Riverside School. Kiran integrated her knowledge of the design thinking process into creating an educational experience that was embedded in common sense. The Riverside School's lesson plan focuses on creating curious, competent, future citizens. The school now enrolls almost 300 children and has franchised its curriculum widely.
Sethi's other initiative, Design for Change, is a global movement that empowers children to be the change they wish to see in this world, and has spread to over 35 countries in three years, and has the participation of over 25 million children across the globe. Sethi started this global movement with a conviction that if children are empowered and made to feel that they can take matters into their hands, they will change the world for the better.
Sethi's latest project, inspired by dialogue with the children of Riverside, is called aProCh, which stands for "A Protagonist in every Child." Fighting the stereotype of modern kids as rude and delinquent, aProCh looks for ways to engage Ahmedabad's children in modern city life, and to revamp our cities to make room for kids to learn, both actively and by example.
Sethi has received numerous honors, including the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008 and the 'Call to Conscience' award from the King Centre at Stanford in 2009. She was a speaker at TEDIndia in 2009, and was chosen as one of the 12 Thought Leaders of the World by the Culture of Peace Forum in New York City in 2011. She is a member of the board of Teach for India, founded by Shaheen Mistri, the first Koldyke Fellow. She has a design background, receiving her diploma in visual communication from the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India.