Riverside School, Ahmedabad

Riverside School
Riverside School is pioneering a new paradigm for education, one where students are led to understand the world empathetically, and not just intellectually. Students at Riverside are active in shaping their own lives, and work collaboratively with each other and external communities towards building an ‘Everyone a Changemaker’ world. 

Life at Riverside

Walking into Riverside is like walking into a world of possibility.  Founded by Ashoka Fellow, Kiran Sethi, on any given day children are assigned different kinds of opportunities to take charge. Starting from designing their own learning spaces, to programs like aProCH (a Protagonist in Every Child), where the children go out, experience and shape the city of Ahmedabad as future city planners, changemaking drives the ethos of the school. 

The core idea

Riverside does this through the development of a simple, and easy-to-implement Design framework (Feel, Imagine, Do and Share). This framework encourages practice that is embedded in empathy and action, allowing children and young people to give themselves the permission to cause positive change, and to see themselves as future citizen leaders. 
Riverside’s focus on the whole child has resulted in not only stellar academic progress, but also in meaningful change in the Ahmedabad region. Riverside features in the country’s top 10 schools for Math, Science and English as demonstrated through ASSET, a national assessment for schools in India. Riverside pupils constantly link up this intellectual competency with real-world situations – they have worked with the city to design public parks,  redesigned trash cans for Ahmedabad’s Municipal Corporation, and have developed innovative and useful products for low income communities in the area.
Further, Riverside is systematically propagating this framework globally, through the Design for Change School Challenge. Launched in 2009, the competition sees entries from around 35 countries, with more than 10,000 instances where children have designed and implemented solutions to the problems they see around them. Based on these stories and experiences, Riverside’s well-researched Design Thinking Guide (a school curriculum) is now being piloted in India, Spain, Peru, USA and Taiwan, making it accessible and possible for thousands of young children to thrive in an ‘I CAN’ universe.

Change Leader

Kiran Bir Sethi, Founder, Riverside School, aProCH and Design for Change
Through her various educational initiatives, Kiran Bir Sethi aims to improve childhood experiences by building a strong and healthy relationship between children and their community. Kiran believes when children are empowered to believe in themselves and raised in nurturing environments, they will not just do well but also do good. The Design Thinking framework, which is at the core of all her work, develops the much required 21st century skills in every child. The framework equips children with the tools to be more aware and informed of the world around them, believe and realise the importance of their role in shaping that world, and take action towards building a more desirable present thus leading to a more sustainable future.
After graduating from the National Institute of Design in 1989 with a degree in graphic design, Sethi moved into education, founding the Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India, in 2001. Riverside, a mainstream private school, has grown one grade a year, and is viewed as a laboratory to prototype design processes that enable “exceptional” teaching and “transformative” student participation. All curriculum development is custom developed year-by-year, tested with student feedback and then modified: both processes and outcomes are captured on paper, documented for future use and refined.

Change Team

1. Meghna Patel, Head of Riverside Learning Center 
2. Nandini Parekh, Academic Head, Key Stage 2 (Grades 3-7)
3. Archana Todi, Senior Kindergarten, Teacher
4. Avani Desai, Parent
5. Aakash Lalchandani, Grade 11 Student, working with cancer patients through the school’s citizenship initiative HEAL
6. Mudita Motwani, Grade 10 students, focusing on education and student well-being through work with disadvantaged children
7. Parul Patel, Administration Head
8. Sunil Yadav, School Caretaker
9. Shanti Mohra, K2 Parent, focused on education for parents of RTE students.