Following Vandana Goyal’s decision to step down from her role as CEO of Akanksha, we take great pleasure in announcing that Saurabh Taneja will be the third CEO of the Akanksha Foundation. Saurabh is a Teach for India alumnus from its very first batch of 2009, and also served as School Leader of the Acharya Vinoba Bhave Secondary School in Pune. He is well regarded for being a humble, collaborative and nurturing leader. The strong results of his school speak to his capabilities and he brings a passion for innovation, continuous learning, and drive for results.
He laid out a vision for Akanksha that is impressive and exciting. We conducted a short interview with the new CEO to understand his vision in greater depth.
1) After your graduation from IIT Delhi, what made you decide to enter a life of social service?
After my graduation, I took the usual course of taking up an offer as a counsultant in Bangalore. However, I started volunteering over weekends at a local Anganwadi, and was able to put names and faces to numbers/statistics I had so often read. Gradually, the experience made me reflect on deeper meaning for self and the fact it is best realised in service of others, that led me to join Teach for India in 2009. The classroom experience at TFI further reinforced my belief, and decided to continue with TFI’s mission of solving for education inequity in our country.
2) What do you see as the biggest challenges in the education system and how do you think Akanksha can help in fixing these?
While, the recent narrative in India’s education reform has started shifting from being inputs based towards quality and learning outcomes, there is a really long way to go. Moreover, quality education is still considered to be offered in private schools and parents from low income communities need to shell a significant amount have access to it. Akanksha is playing a key role in demonstrating what is really possible for children coming from low income communities, that a strong school can have transformative impact on the life of students from these communities and at the same time setting an example for other organisations and government. That by upholding high expectations, not just few but, all children can achieve.
3) As you enter the role of the CEO of Akanksha, what are you most excited about?
I am deeply passionate about making Akanksha the most innovative school network in the country, so as to really push the imagination of people about what a school in 21st century can look like. I am also deeply excited about integrating technology so that our schools and organisation can make a transition to being a ‘multiplier’