The world witnessed massive academic discontinuity because of school closures due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown. India was no different; in fact, it was affected more so because of the digital divide that separates the haves and the have-nots.
Nevertheless, students and teachers quickly adapted to the changed circumstances and went on to set forth examples of excellence in education. However, nobody seemed to recognise students and teachers as the heroes they deserved to be hailed as.
This is what gave birth to the idea of the JagranJosh Education Awards, a platform to celebrate and honour these very individuals who created stories of excellence in education under trying circumstances. The second season of the Education Awards applauded the efforts of educational leaders, teachers, and students who went the extra mile and demonstrated excellence in the field of education.
While the first round of these awards set high standards and created an industry benchmark for recognising best practices in education during the COVID-19-induced lockdown, the second round took this legacy forward by recognising exceptional work being done in the field of education at a time when online/hybrid education had become the “new normal.”
JagranJosh.com is Jagran New Media’s (JNM) education and youth portal. It enjoys a leadership position as India’s one-stop destination for the latest and fact-checked information about everything related to education.
JNM decided to institute unique awards recongising unsung heroes among the three key stakeholders in the education ecosystem: students, teachers, and educational leaders. Aligned with this, there were socially relevant and inclusive award categories and sub-categories that truly encompassed and brought out stories of struggle, grit, and determination from students and teachers identifying with society’s vulnerable sections.
Unique selling proposition (USP)
Speaking about the USP of JagranJosh Education Awards, Parikshit Bhardwaj, head of content and strategy at JNM, said: “In an industry where awards are generally given to educational institutions, we wanted to recognise individual efforts of both students and teachers, along with their leaders, and highlight socially relevant initiatives undertaken by these individuals during and after the pandemic.”
Hence, a totally unique awards concept was conceived and conceptualised with two key USPs:
- Awards recognising individual (or team) efforts of all three stakeholders in the education ecosystem.
- Unique award categories recognising initiatives of a socially responsible nature that went beyond purely academic achievement.
Therefore, these awards included unique categories such as most socially relevant Initiative, best initiative for grassroots service, best initiative for the specially-abled, best initiative for mental health awareness, most innovative educational project, and most innovative teaching method.
The team at JagranJosh undertook a three-month meticulous process of reaching all parts of the country to surface unique initiatives undertaken by students and teachers during and after the pandemic. More than 750 nominations were received, and editorial screening and verification were carried out for all the entries. This included collecting necessary documents, proof, and references to verify candidates’ claims.
The results were extremely encouraging and overwhelming. Inspirational stories and incredible work included students doing cutting-edge research on COVID, a student who launched a crypto-based donation app to help funding, counsellors working tirelessly for mental health awareness with free online workshops, and educators who ran food banks and used gamification to make virtual learning fun for students.
Deciding on winners
One of the key highlights of the 2022 JagranJosh Education Awards was the way its winners were decided with both online voting and a jury’s decision. To decide the winners in each of the award categories, the nomination profiles of the finalists were displayed on the awards Web site, where people could read these inspirational stories and vote on them to decide the winners.
The second, and perhaps the most important, aspect that differentiated 2022 JagranJosh Education Awards was the jury round. To assess the efforts and achievements of the finalist, an eminent jury panel was convened, which consisted of some of the most prominent names from the education sphere. These included:
- Lt. Gen. Surendra Kulkarni, director of Mayo College, Ajmer.
- Prof. Yogesh Joshi, dean of international relations, IIT Kanpur.
- Prof. Manish K Thakur, dean of new initiatives and external relations, IIM Calcutta.
- Prof. Ambrish Dongre, faculty at Ravi J. Matthai Centre for Educational Innovation, IIM Ahmedabad.
- Prof. Pankaj Arora, dean of students’ welfare, University of Delhi.
- Prof. Deepa Mani, deputy dean of digital initiatives and executive education, ISB Hyderabad.
- Prof. Monica Singhania, professor of finance and faculty of management studies, New Delhi.
The esteemed jurists meticulously assessed each nomination profile in detail on its merit to decide the final winners.
Celebration of excellence
The culmination of this three-month exercise resulted in a glittering hybrid awards ceremony on in March to celebrate excellence in education. In attendance were Shri Ajay Bhatt, minister of state for defence and tourism as the chief guest, and Smt. Annpurna Devi, minister of state for education, as the guest of honour. The awards ceremony also received support from Dr. Biswajit Saha, director (skill education and training) of CBSE, and Sharad Vivek Sagar, CEO of Dexterity Global and Social Entrepreneur, who attended special guests.
The JagranJosh Education Awards started as an attempt to highlight the country’s unsung heroes from the education ecosystem who went beyond the call of duty during and after the pandemic. It has emerged as an industry standard for recognising best practices in education.
The stories of all finalists were compiled into an e-book and shared with leading educational experts and academia stakeholders as case studies of students, educators, and educational leaders — the three key pillars of the education ecosystem — who kept the flame of excellence in education burning during unprecedented times.