Tell us about your journey as a teacher and as a school administrator and also your experience with the education system.
I was a journalist with The Statesman,Delhi. Then I worked at The Centre for Science and Environment as Editor of Green File. To balance my personal life with my professional one,I did a B.Ed to get into the teaching profession and it didnt take long for this choice to turn into passion! My career in education spans close to 21 years. I worked in Gyan Bharati as PGT Political Science for 14 years.
At present I am the proud principal of The Indian School. I have always been a proactive teacher and kept the interest of my students at the forefront of my career. I have also laid strong emphasis on their personality development.
As a teacher I have learnt that if you establish a personal rapport with your students and make your subject interesting,they will do well. As an administrator,what works for me is the ability to display patience without compromising discipline. In fact,an interplay of freedom and firmness works.
Tell us about your school,its history and motive behind its establishment.
Founded in 1996 by Gyan Mandir Society in the heart of South Delhi,The Indian School prepares students for the Central Board of Secondary Education. The vision of the school is to let children discover themselves and pursue their inclinations for themselves and equally for the community to which they belong. Excellence becomes inevitable.
The schools motto is Knowledge Is Power and as we go along,value-learning is instilled by what we call the Sanskaara syllabus. Fondly,we believe we build ocean liners with Indian anchors and ethical rudders.
What are the challenges students generally face these days?
The major challenge that students are facing these days is coping with the new CCE system as they have not grown up in the new system. The familiar factors are their teachers and their parents who have remained steadfast and can offer the support required.
Also the CCE,not being implemented at 11 and 12 levels,is leading to a lot of stress among the students which needs to be innovatively handled by the school.
Also with the vast amount of exposure to information available,the students are more prone to peer-pressure,substance abuse etc. These sensitive issues need to be tackled delicately.
How do you assess the education system vis-a-vis the advent of globalisation in India particularly in the context of International Student Exchange programmes?
International Student Exchange programmes play a vital role in education as they are intended to increase the students’ understanding and tolerance of other cultures,as well as improving their language skills and broadening their social horizons. We have established international links with schools in London under the UKIERI programme of the British Council,which involves teacher and student exchanges. We are regularly visited by teachers and students of reputed schools overseas with whom we share a variety of international programmes. Our teachers have also visited the UK and have shared ideas for enriching the curriculum. We have also enjoyed exchanges with Roxeth Middle and Nursery School at Harrow.
Ten teachers from the high-profile Chapin School,Manhattan,while on a visit to India,interacted with our teachers during summer this year. Our representatives have visited La Source,an English-medium school in Paris,with a view to establishing an educational exchange. We have been privileged to have the prestigious Girton College,University of Cambridge,join hands with us to organise the Girton College the Indian school essay competition.
Also under the aegis of CBSE,last year our students visited Japan. This summer they visited France where they were exposed to the nuances of French culture and language.
What are the achievements of your students in various fields?
The students of our school are an extremely talented bunch who excel in varied spheres be it cracking the formidable IIT-JEE to winning medals in international sporting events; from bringing home a Rolling Trophy for their literary prowess to outsmarting their rivals in chess tournaments; from winning medals in tennis,skating or painting competitions,you name it,our students have established a name for themselves in their respective fields of expertise. Take a look at the following to corroborate my proud words. Shramay Dhawan (class 9) was runner’s-up in Boys’ Under-14 (Doubles),July 22-26,2013,at AATR Complex,Guwahati,organised by All Assam Tennis Association. Aansh Gupta,5,is winner of the Delhi State Chess Championship 2013 (Boys’ Under 11) and runner- up in the Boys’ Under 19. Daksh Shokeen,8,took 6th position in the Indian Golf Union Tournament (North Zone). He also won the Little Masters Junior Golf Tournament and was runner-up at the Callaway Junior Golf Tournament. Tanya Gauba and Kamyani Gupta (class 11) took the Best Logo Award for package designing at Commerce Conclave,2012. Bhavana Arora (class 9) has won 1st prize in an ‘On the Spot Children’s Painting Competition’ at Hungarian Information & Cultural Centre on February 15,2013. Garvit Kala,(class 10),is regional winner of Tagore 150 contest by INTACH.
What are the important factors that should be followed to keep up the standard of the school?
One of the most important factors that should be followed to uphold the standard of a school is strong leadership. The Principal is the image of the school. Every stakeholder must be fully aware of the mission so that they work in a focussed manner to achieve it. Also monitoring students’ progress by respecting individual differences and developing them is key. Along with this,other factors like a safe environment,regular teacher training and technology play a very important role.
How do you evaluate the change in IIT admission rule?
The good part of the change in the IIT admission rule is that students will concentrate on their CBSE scores,as it is mandatory to include them. However,the normalisation formula that takes care of all the students of all the boards sometimes is working against them.
How do you look at the higher education system in India and the problems and challenges of higher studies and colleges here? In your opinion how can it be improved?
Higher education especially at the undergraduate level is focusing excessively on board results. By this we are not considering the child who has an average percentage but a better personality and better extra-curricular record (one that is good but not good enough for the ECA category) as compared to the one with better percentage but a dull personality,with nil extra-curricular participation. For example the four-year programme at Delhi University might be getting it’s inspiration from the US system. However,as cited by author Chetan Bhagat,the US has an elaborate admission process for its top colleges,with selection based on academics,essays,extra-curriculars,recommendations as well as achievements outside the classroom.
We can solve this by having a better selection process as cited above,more colleges,student-centred education,job-oriented courses with focus on world-class education,besides examination reforms with robust implementation so that the change is gradual and easily assimilated by all.