Her unique story
Dr Sunita Gandhi is a notable humanist who served the national and international interests by introducing new methods, ideas or concepts to bring about a progressive change in education.
Her integrity, determination, grit, and ability to stand for what she believes in makes her an extraordinary educator.
Formerly an economist at the World Bank for 10 years, Dr Sunita Gandhi comes with an intuitive understanding of the educational needs of children and youth in India. She is a visionary educationist who authored 'Disruptive Literacy: A Roadmap for Immediate Global Action.'
DEVI Sansthan, a registered NGO, was founded by her to bring a revolutionary change in education under which, in 2014, she launched the Global Dream movement for universal literacy and numeracy. It provides swift, effective, and low-cost Toolkits in 13 Indian languages that take a learner from the known to the unknown – helping them become literate in just 30-hours. Over 500 schools in India and overseas have adopted her curriculum and assessments based on this principle.
Sunita started her first school for the underprivileged at the age of 14, and at present, she owns 20 schools all over India.
Sunita is the vice-chairman of the India literacy board and the president of the Council for Global Education, USA. She has been awarded Educationist of the Year 2015 by India Book of Records and Visionary of Uttar Pradesh 2017 by Dainik Bhaskar, the world's third-biggest daily. She is the founder of the Education Society of Iceland (Islensku menntasamtokin ses) and Global Education & Training Institute.
Under the guidance of her parents, Dr Jagdish Gandhi and Dr Bharti Gandhi, who are the founders of the world’s largest school, CMS, Dr Sunita Gandhi’s childhood days were different and offered her a great scope of learning. It was CMS from where she received her school education; however, the school was not the largest one when she was growing up. Finances were constrained, but there was always enthusiasm that kept her going.
Her early days were different from her peers; she had never seen her career-oriented mother cooking, which was quite uncommon in those days. Being someone who owned big ideas, her father gave her full freedom to follow her dreams and passions. She played a crucial role at the managerial level in CMS, not as a child but as a young adult who could contribute. Her empathy, compassion and kindness towards the poor have always been at the peak; her young heart has cried many times seeing someone in distress, and she always made sure to help them.
Education has been a great source of motivation for her; at the age of 14, she cracked the NTSE examination and started school for the underprivileged. Meeting Saint Mother Teresa around this time was a life-changing opportunity for her. The saint had blessed her, saying, “God loves Sunita. Love others as He loves you.”
At 16, her parents sent her to study in the UK on donations from friends and family. A few years later, she completed a doctorate in Physics from Cambridge University on generous academic scholarships. She raised funds for charities in the UK and India through massive charity cookouts, events, pledges for runs and parachute jumping.
After completing one year as a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, USA, she applied to the most unlikely position of an economist through the prestigious Young Professionals Program of the World Bank. Her selection meant she became a permanent member of the World Bank fraternity. She worked on education policy and development programs in many countries, including a participatory project for women in Morocco. This project was showcased at the UN Summit in Copenhagen and led to her receiving the World Bank's most outstanding contribution to development award.
She was definitely at the peak of her career when she decided to quit this highly prestigious job and go back to India. Her purpose was two-fold. Not only would she help her parents with their school but also to help improve the situation of Education in India.
Her latest project, Global Dream, aims at providing foundational literacy to the illiterate masses. The results from the pilot are startling, and 3.2 lakh students from 11 Indian States have participated in this campaign so far. The new focus is on improving literacy and numeracy in government schools. The unique Global Dream Toolkits allow a person to become reading capable within 1 to 2 months with just 15–30-minute sessions per day.
Over the years, she has visited 49 countries on six different continents. She has studied their education systems and exchanged notes with educators and policymakers worldwide. Yet, each trip has added to her dismay at the state of current education. It has taken her back to the drawing board and to come up with a new framework of the Four Building Blocks of Education. To promote these ideas and more empowering education, her ex-boss at the World Bank, Bob Saunders, co-founded the Council for Global Education, USA. She has been fortunate enough to share these ideas with educators worldwide, including at Finland's annual Educator's conference on invitation from the Finnish National Board of Education.
Over the years, she has visited 49 countries on six different continents. She has studied their education systems and exchanged notes with educators and policymakers worldwide. Yet, each trip has added to her dismay at the state of current education. It has taken her back to the drawing board and to come up with a new framework of the Four Building Blocks of Education. To promote these ideas and more empowering education, her ex-boss at the World Bank, Bob Saunders, co-founded the Council for Global Education, USA. She has been fortunate enough to share these ideas with educators worldwide, including at Finland's annual Educator's conference on invitation from the Finnish National Board of Education.Dr Gandhi leads the Disruptive Education Movement through initiatives like Ed Leadership Conferences, GETI Live talks, and Teachers’ Training Programs to take India’s education in its entirety from its old moulds into the new directions guided by the New Education Policy, 2020.
Her efforts in education have expanded a vast range, from the bottom-up grassroots level in Indian slums and villages through her NGO to establishing her schools. She has established Iceland's first two charter schools, an experimental school in the Czech Republic, and 19 schools in India. She has spoken at several conferences on five continents, including recently in BETT Asia. Dr Gandhi was invited to Finland as the Keynote to the largest gathering of their educators by the Finnish National Board of Education.
Her research work in Iceland, the UK and India mainstream the principle of 'compete with yourself' versus 'compete with others', published in a 2017 book by Palgrave Macmillan, UK. Today, over 500 schools in India and overseas have adopted her curriculum and assessments based on this principle. With this large-scale pilot, she is fine-tuning an education more suited to the needs of children living in the 21st century. The foundation of her education is constructed on Four Building Blocks of Education: Universal Values, Global Understanding, Excellence in All Things and Service to Humanity.
TARGETplus education, a company founded by Dr Gandhi in 2016, focuses on reducing stress and improving students' results taking high-stakes examinations. IIM Lucknow's L-Incubator has selected it.
Why She Rocks?
AlfA is the answer
Dr Sunita Gandhi is the program author of ALfA or ‘Accelerating Learning For All’ Methodology, which she completed after many years of research by working with the underprivileged children. ALfA is a child-friendly, process-led pedagogy in which children work in pairs and learn to decode and blend sounds to make words from the beginning. Teacher’s role is to motivate and support this process, ask, wait, but not tell or teach.”
The ALfA is a reverse methodology that uses cognitive mind connections, and self-led peer work to make learning accelerated and joyful. There is no rote learning and no teaching of the alphabet. Children go straight to reading words. They learn to decode and blend words from the first day. Even three-year olds can read the three-letter words from the beginning and simple sentences within weeks. The 5+ children can read storybooks and newspapers within three months, and many of the 7 year olds within one month. The next goals are reading fluency through lots of reading practice, reading comprehension, and vocabulary development. The school has tied up with many story book app providers besides having a large inventory of printed books and a reading log that parents sign.
President, Dignity Education Vision International (DEVI Sansthan), India*
President, Council for Global Education, USA.
President, Islensku menntasamtokin ses, Hafnarfjordur, Iceland.
President, Global Education & Training Institute
Ph.D. in Physics, Trinity College, Cambridge University, UK*
B.Sc. (Hons.) in Physics, Imperial College, London University, UK
B.Ed., Lucknow University, UP, India**
Peterborough Technical College
A-Levels, Peterborough Technical College, UK
St. Agnes’ Loreto
Middle & High School, St. Agnes’ Loreto, Lucknow, India
City Montessori School
Primary School, City Montessori School, Lucknow, India
Inspiration for others
Dr Sunita Gandhi has reached the apex of success and society welfare by motivating thousands to join the disruptive movement to attain foundational literacy and numeracy.
She is a magnificent orator and leader, and her innovative initiatives in education have caused a ray of hope for the masses to perceive that FLN is possible in only 30-40 hours. She has already inspired thousands and will continue to do so on her journey ahead.
Dr. Sunita Gandhi is BIG MAGIC! Her inner torch catalyzes legions of people to work toward the dream of literacy and numeracy for all humans on the planet.
Dr. Gandhi is expansive in her thoughts, plans, and worldview. She believes that our world will find equity to solve phenomena-based problems such as climate change if every human becomes literate and numerate.
What makes Dr. Gandhi different is that she works meticulously and quickly. She doesn’t slog through loads of bureaucracy to create change. Dr. Gandhi’s programs demonstrate that her foundational literacy and numeracy programs work. The programs spark learners to probe, think, analyze, evaluate, and create. Learners are the centerpiece of making discoveries and applying new understanding.
Dr. Sunita Gandhi is bold, dynamic, and a world leader. She is changing the face of education across the globe, and I believe in her vision. Dr. Gandhi invites all to create educational sea change and step into the lives of people who are waiting to emerge as equal citizens.
Dr Gandhi has impressed me with her vision for literacy in a world that does not recognize the system is not working. With so many children experiencing challenges with literacy, very few education leaders have asked questions about where the problem is located. Indeed the problem is systemic, and Dr Gandhi is providing this alternative bravely and boldly supported by empirical research. Dr Gandhi, as a result, is a visionary and is showing leadership that is required by millions of children.
"I came across the Global Dream Modules while searching for an effective and swift pedagogy on the internet. I downloaded and started teaching my students from them; to my surprise, they learned incredibly quickly. I later contacted Dr Sunita Gandhi, who encouraged me and made available a sufficient number of books and other supporting material, and she also assured me to continue my cooperation towards literacy as much as possible."
PAPER BOOK & REPORTS
The Inconvenient Truth of Illiteracy Inequality: The Sociodemographic
Disadvantage, Thomas Delaney, Dr. Kaaren Mathias, Dr. Sunita Gandhi,Linda Seefeldt, Economic & Political Weekly, India
Gandhi S. (2017) Compete With Yourself (CWY): Maximising Learning Gain in
Schools. In: Hughes G. (eds) Ipsative Assessment and Personal Learning Gain. Palgrave Macmillan, London.
Disruptive Literacy, Bloomsbury India, 2021 (In Publishing Process)
- Why Can’t the Children Read, 2019* https://www.globaldream.guru/YIDAN/GDS%20Child.pdf
- Accelerating Adult Literacy, 2019* https://www.globaldream.guru/YIDAN/GDS%20Child.pdf
*Based on first-hand literacy survey of 1.5 million individuals 6-60 years of age in 396,000 households, by Dr. Sunita Gandhi
Opinion Editorials and Articles
In Several Newspapers & Magazineshttps://thedailyguardian.com/why-do-our-educators-need-teacher-training/ https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17807216.Dr_Sunita_Gandhi https://www.epw.in/author/sunita-gandhi https://www.financialexpress.com/education-2/right-to-education-how-far-can-padhna-likhna-abhiyan-go-to-improve-literacy-rates-in-india/2291907/
CONFERENCES & WORK TRAVELS
Keynote, BETT ASIA, Malaysia
Keynote, International Education Conference, Thailand
Keynote, Annual Conference, Finnish National Board of Education, Finland
Keynote, International Education Conference, Hawaii
Keynote and Roundtable Host, State-of-the-World-Forum, Ireland
Keynote and Roundtable Host, State-of-the-World-Forum, USA 1999l
Keynote, UN Summit, Copenhagen, Denmark
Keynote, UN Women’s Conference, Jordan
Keynote, A New Framework for Education, Finland
INTERNATIONAL VISITS & WORK
Dr. Gandhi has worked in or travelled to study education systems in these 49 countries:
AFFILIATIONS IN INDIA