Kiran’s Designs for Change

Anoushka U | VIVARTANA

“I teach because I love learning. No two days are ever the same- so, every day I can become an explorer, an artist, a magician, or a storyteller!”

Kiran Bir Sethi is the founder of Design for Change, a global movement that aims to give young people an opportunity to express their ideas for a better world and put them into action. She has also founded The Riverside School, Ahmedabad. Design for Change has inspired hundreds of thousands of children, teachers, and parents, to celebrate the fact that they are not helpless, that change is possible, and that they can lead and inspire that change.

Kiran was born and raised in Bengaluru. She graduated from the National Institute of Design , Ahmedabad after which she established her own design firm. Her interest in education began to develop when she observed the schooling that her son was being provided. Every time he deviated from the textbook or tried to take charge of his own learning, he would be punished by his teachers. She realized that this was the case in most schools in India. Poor student performance is often attributed to laziness and lack of interest in studies, or apathetic teachers. However, these are only symptoms of a much deeper problem – an uninspired and irrelevant pedagogy and curriculum.


Sethi integrated her knowledge of the thinking process involved in design into creating an educational experience that was embedded in common sense. She started The Riverside School with just eleven students and one modified bungalow in 2001. The school now has an enrollment of almost three hundred children and has franchised its curriculum widely. Riverside is an example of a creative space that is not only designed for students but with them as well. Rigor, Relevance and Relationships, or the three Rs, form the foundation of all learning at Riverside. The school has been declared Gujarat’s Best Day School by Education World and is an all-India Winner in two categories: Parental Involvement and Individual Attention. Under the guidance of Sethi, the school has made Ahmedabad the first child-friendly city of India. This initiative has now spread to different cities in Gujarat and to over thirty-five countries across the world.

The 2015 Global Teacher Prize finalist is changing the way students learn in India. Her innovative methods can be summed up in what she calls the Design Thinking Approach, which uses the framework of feeling, imagination, action, and sharing. The result of this method is an empowered student who believes he or she can create positive and meaningful change in communities.



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