‘Value education is of prime importance’

Quest interview with Lt Col AShekar (Retd),Principal,Atul Vidyalaya,Valsad.

Written by Express News Service | Published: April 1, 2013 2:19:35 am

Atul Vidyalaya will endeavour to provide world-class learning environment that will nurture the child to evolve into a value driven and competent citizen. The mission statement of the school states the sense of commitment and responsibility that it has undertaken to create in each student a responsible citizen not only by imparting knowledge but also by nurturing in them the values of our cultural heritage.

Founded in 1991 the Late Shri Kasturbhai Lalbhai,a nationalist businessman,a visionary and an educationist,Atul Vidyalaya lies nestled in a thickly wooded campus of 24 acres inside the residential colony of Atul Ltd in Atul,8 km from Valsad,on the Western Railway between Mumbai and Surat. The colony is spread at the foothills of Parnera Hill,gently sloping towards Par River which meets the Arabian Sea about 5 km away. Since the campus is on a mild gradient,it utilizes the contours to scenic advantage. As such,it is easily one of the most beautiful campuses of a day school.

The school aims to create a kind of education centre where each child is imparted knowledge that is contemporary while simultaneously rooted firmly in our cultural heritage and provides a joyful learning environment based on hands on experience and understanding.

Atul Vidyalaya is managed by a Board of Trustees,comprising representatives of Atul Ltd and renowned educationists. The Board is headed by Chairman and Managing Trustee who oversee the day-to-day activities. The educationists on the board advise and guide the management in matters of infrastructure,staff development and curriculum.

Give us a brief overview about what sets your school apart.

First and foremost the management,the faculty and the students work as a wonderful cohesive team to make Atul Vidyalaya an experience in itself. Nurturing the values of our cultural heritage and passing them on to students in a gurukul ambience,full of greenery in and around the school campus,with an aim to transform students into responsible citizens has been the key objective of Atul Vidyalaya and has been the vision of Late Shri Kasturbhai Lalbhai. The passion of the faculty to understand the needs of students individually and visit their homes to have a feel of the family life of the student helps them to understand the psychological needs of the children better and focus on their needs accordingly. The school is divided into four sections: Ananda – Pre Primary (Joy of Learning),Jigyasa – Primary (Spirit of Enquiry),Sadhana – Middle (Faith in Self and the Guru) and Shraddha (Focussed at the ultimate career goal yet stay close to our customs and values).

The rule that states you cannot fail any student till class 8 has created quite a commotion. Is it difficult for your school to cope with it? What are the measures in place?

The rule kills the competitive spirit in children and sometimes makes students casual in their approach to studies. The school ensures that students put in their best efforts to clear exams and do not fail a student unless the faculty find that he or she student is not able to cope with the curriculum and needs to be detained. But this is strictly on a case-to-case basis . The same is discussed with the parents and then the decision taken accordingly and the necessity for the student to be detained is explained to the parents of the student. However,it is not in the interest of the school to pass the students class after class only to show 100% results. Special Coaching and Remedial Classes are conducted for students who deserve special attention.

What is your take on new school bus norms? Has any committee been formed and what measures have been implemented after RTO’s guidelines were sent to educational bodies.

The new bus norms are essential to ensure safety and security of our children. A committee is in place to look into the issues relating to transportation of students from home to school and back. As a rule,a school teacher accompanies each bus on each route and ensures that the students reach their destination smoothly. The duties have been allotted accordingly and are being adhered to by the teachers. The contact numbers of teachers are shared with parents.

What is the current scenario regarding RTE Act that states providing 25% reservations to students from lower rung of society. Have you received guidelines and what has been done regarding the same?

The RTE Act is a step in the right direction and the need of the hour to ensure that education reaches the children who are deprived in rural areas. But the right impact will be when the implementation is undertaken correctly and in an organized manner. The school already caters to students from these areas and providing quality education to the local children is a prime concern for Atul Ltd.

B K Muzumdar Science College,Kalyani School and Atul Vidyalaya provide students of the region top quality education. B K Muzumdar Foundation is active with educational programmes in rural areas. Atul Rural Development Fund (ARDF),the rural development arm of Atul Ltd,supports the surrounding villages in the area of education. ARDF has made significant contribution in supplying educational material to needy school children and providing requisite infrastructure. ARDF regularly organises mobile science exhibitions in far villages of Valsad District in collaboration with District Science Centre,a governmental organisation.

What do you feel about the topper system? Do you think media hype surrounding students is justified?

The topper system is totally biased and differentiates the capabilities of our students. I express my strong dissatisfaction for the same. It is unjust to differentiate between the meritorious from the rest. If each sudent is provided the right environment for studies with experienced teachers and modern teaching aids,there will be no necessity for them to go for classes outside. Much media hype has surrounded students,which is unwarranted. Media,being a very effective force,needs to play a positive role in the mental development of students rather than misguide them.

How important are extracurricular activities in holistic development of a student. What activities are conducted by school?

Extracurricular activities form the backbone of an educational institution to develop students both mentally and physically. Atul Vidyalaya provides ample opportunity to each child to take part in numerous activities within the school campus with all facilities throughout the year.

Each of the four clusters has separate assemblies and in each assembly students are given platform to develop self-confidence,public speaking and other abilities. Besides fine arts,the school imparts arts and crafts training in the form of drawing,painting,clay work and papier mache work.

A healthy mind requires a healthy body and hence the school provides a wide range of indoor and outdoor sports like football,basketball,swimming,kho-kho,athletics,badminton,chess,etc. to develop the spirit of co-operation,mutual support and the ability to accept defeat in the right spirit.

Being an English medium school,we encourage literary activities like debates,declamation,quizzes,essay writing,recitation,etc. to instill in children a love for the language. Hobbies are nurtured in students by forming various clubs like Nature Club,Dramatics,Maths Club,Calligraphy,Reading Club,etc.

What is your approach to value education and inculcation? How important are values in today’s trending times?

Inculcation of value education is of prime importance to the school as it believes that the root of our cultural heritage lies in the values that have been imparted to us. Nurturing of these values in students will not only make them respectable individuals but responsible citizens of our country and the school believes in this basic premise.

There is a need for upgrading our values and matching them to the needs of today and outdated ones need to be done away with. Even in these times,values will help create an individuality and identity among students and help them overcome obstacles with a calm attitude and be responsible citizens.

The guru-shishya parampara in our gurukul culture is imparted in this school with a beautiful landscape and students enjoy teaching sessions under the shade of trees and the flora that surrounds the campus. This raises the respect of the guru among students and learning becomes lively and interesting rather than a routine for students.

STUDENT ACHIEVERS

SANSKRITI SINGH represented Maharashtra Zone in nationals and won gold medal in 50m breast stroke and silver medal in 100m breast stroke

PARSHV SHAH stood first in Class X (ICSE)

HAMITI SHAH won gold medal in ISC states athletics

HEMIN GALA and PARSHV SHAH have represented Valsad District in state level Football several times.

HINAL SETHIA was part of the Maharashtra Team which placed 1st in the ISC Basketball Nationals.

DHWANI DESAI has represented Maharashtra Zone in the ASIC National Athletic Meet

PEARL PANDYA is the member ot the team which placed 3rd at The ASIM Regional Debate competition.

PRATIBHA AGNIHOTRI,SHYAM VACCHANI and DHVANEE BHAVSAR have represented Maharashtra Region in the National Athletics Meet.

SHYAM VACCHANI,JAY TELI and ADIL SAMEJA have represented Gujarat Team in Football National

SAUMYA SINGH and DARSHI DESAI represented Maharashtra region in National Level ASISC aquatic meet.

Lt Col A Shekar (Retd): A profile

Lt Col A Shekar is a dynamic result-oriented soldier and educationist with over 25 years of holistic experience in the areas of education,administration,leadership and HR.

He became the Principal of Atul Vidyalaya Atul,Valsad in January 2009. Apart from this,he is providing services as Director of Atul Education Foundation; Trustee of Kalyani School,Valsad;

Member of CBSE Regional Committees

IGNOU & NIOS Coordinator,Leh.

Lt. Col. Shekar is the Chairman’s Empowered Representative for Kalyani Vidyalaya and served in Army Schools and Secretary,Primary Sainik School,Satara & Army School,Barrackpore.

Lt Col Shekar was the Officer Commanding,Independent NCC Company Satara and Physical Training Officer,ADGM Centre,Nasik. He was the Administrative Officer Commanding,Army field formation and has also served as an Education Officer for field formations in operational areas in Sri Lanka and India.

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