In February, Teacher Exchange alum Charu Mathur was named as one of India’s 2023 Most Influential Women in Education under the category ‘New Age Leaders’ by Business World Education magazine. Charu was recognized for her leadership of the Socrates Foundation for Enhanced Learning, a nonprofit she founded following her 2011 teacher exchange. Charu’s exchange program was a motivating factor in setting up the foundation, as she wanted to share her new pedagogical and technological skills with a wider network of teachers and says, “I was completely motivated to put my learnings into practice.” Today the Socrates Foundation aims to provide K-12 teachers with the necessary skills to prepare their students for successful futures in the 21st century global economy through learning modules that develop student skills in technology, media literacy, service learning, and citizen journalism, among other topics. The foundation has a reach of over 7,500 teachers and 10,000 students, as well as parents across India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. Charu has also won grants from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to further support the organization’s student-centric programs. A key objective of the foundation, Charu says, is to “blend 21st-century skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity in the regular curriculum, not as separate subjects.” 

To sustain the success of programs, Socrates Foundation started to place a focus on training school administration, principals, and teachers in 2015. Popular programs focus on integration of instructional technology, blended learning, and social and emotional learning.  

Charu believes the COVID-19 pandemic played a significant role in accelerating leveraging technology tools in classrooms. “It was then that everybody realized the importance of technology in the classroom. We customized our content and switched over to online training modules. Our interactive, online course helped schools continue the teaching process despite the closure of schools during lockdown.” 

Aware of changing needs in the future, Charu advises teachers that “we can't predict what the future holds for you. Nevertheless, you should continually upskill yourself and adopt the best practices to engage with the students.” This also holds true for the Socrates Foundation, as Charu shares “our approach is to be adaptable and agile. It's difficult for any organization to survive for long unless it innovates and adapts. I can't say that I have a fixed plan, but we are definitely very responsive to changes and innovative in our approach.”  

Read more about Charu’s work and approach in this May 2023 article from Business World Education magazine

Charu Mathur is an alum of the International Leaders in Education Program 2011, India to the United States.