Vyjanathi Sankar

Ashoka Fellow
New Delhi, India, South Asia
Fellow Since 2015


This profile was prepared when Vyjanathi Sankar was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2015.
The New Idea
Vyjayanthi works in assessment, which is sometimes described as the third pillar of education in India, the other two being curriculum and pedagogy. She is shifting assessments from acting as judgments or stamps of performance to working as a deep examination of what a student is taking away from learning in a classroom. More importantly, she is developing mechanisms for such diagnostic assessments to act as critical and continuous feedback loops for teachers, schools and governments to improve curriculum and pedagogy.

Vyjayanthi has led large-scale diagnostic assessments across India and South Asia, through a private entity. She handled difficult relationships with multiple state and private entities and orchestrated a team of over 1000 people to conduct the largest study and assessment process. Although this gave valuable insights into how the teaching-learning process is taking place and actionable insights for improvement, Vyjayanthi realized the greater need to take assessments out of the gamut of a handful of private players and make sure they are accessible to and becoming an integral part of the education system in the South Asian region. In collaboration with universities and governments in the region, she is setting up a center that will train her replicators, among existing educators and those still to come, who will have skills in diagnostic assessments. Through workshops, online and offline courses, fellowships and diplomas, she will equip government officers and teachers and create a new cadre of professionals for the sector. Similar to a medical university that has a hospital attached to it, the center will also have a learning lab attached to it. This learning lab will create the live space to engage in benchmarking studies, pedagogical studies and policy advocacy for data based approach to improving curriculum and pedagogy at national and regional levels.

Empowered with the skills that Vyjayanthi has been piloting in India and Bhutan, teachers will be able to set questions in a manner that gives insights into conceptual understanding among students and be able to look at wrong answers and understand the learning gaps or misconceptions held by a child. It allows them to separate components of failure and instead see an opportunity to build conceptual understanding. By building such a talent for assessments, she envisions equipping the South Asia region with the ability to make diagnostic assessments an integral part of the education system.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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