‘We need more scientists & social workers’https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/we-need-more-scientists-social-workers/

‘We need more scientists & social workers’

Quest interview with K.K. Bansal – Chairman of Abhinav Public School,Pitampura.

With exams approaching,how do you tackle the pressure that grips students and their parents?

We prepare children in an atmosphere of fearlessness. We tell them there is nothing wrong with failing but they should not be afraid of that happening. What is important is to eradicate fear which the system puts into them. Children must be made to feel that they are not alone. Parents,teachers and principals are supporting them all the time. They must always aim at entering the best institutions but must not be afraid of not being able to get into them.

Isn’t dealing with expectations of parents an equally important job?

Parents don’t have a complete idea of what their children are capable of. They want to enforce their aims and vision on them. We tell parents that they should allow their children to do what they want but they ask,“Will my child earn enough if he/she takes up off-beat occupations?”

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We cannot equate education with earning. That it is happening is the biggest casualty of the field today.

What is the USP of your school. What do you do differently here?

There are three things that we focus on here — the achievement of the children,the satisfaction of the staff and that of the parents. Management comes last because it is not as important as the core areas. Everything revolves around the child. We inculcate a scientific temper in our children because we want to train a generation of scientists and social workers.

Why the emphasis on social work?

There are sufficient individuals engaged in engineering and finance. What the world needs is trained social workers. Our children work with institutions for the blind. We encourage them to be scribes for visually challenged children in their exams. It is also the policy of our school to admit three visually challenged children every year.

How do schools justify the astronomical fees that keep rising each year?

Fees are only raised to a reasonable level. We do not need too much money,just enough to maintain infrastructure and pay salaries. But the school’s responsibility does not end there. As the Chairman,it is my duty to be accountable to every parent. Every child — from a topper to an unruly one — is equal to me. I am equally responsible for the development of the latter as I am for the former. The guarantee I give every parent is that by the time their children pass out of the school,they will have will scored at least 60 per cent marks in their final exams,have mastered at least one sport and picked up skills that will enable them to become self-employed.

What approach do you adopt in disciplining these unruly children?

Expelling an undisciplined child is never the solution. When I charge fees from the parents,I have no right to throw the child out. The key here is not to give up on the child and have equal sympathy and compassion for him/her. We spend a lot more time with such children and counsel them because they require constant observation. When we are faced with such a case,we look at where the teachers and principal may have gone wrong in addition to the child. Through counselling,the gap between and child and teacher is reduced. If the teacher involved is dedicated,a positive change can be brought about in the child. Children are forceful individuals in their own right. Even if a child cannot fit into the system,we cannot say that he/she will never fit in.

Apart from counselling,how else do you keep children well-behaved but engaged at the same time?

Yoga,when practiced from an early age,really aids mental development. We have made yoga a part of the curriculum. Every morning,ten minutes are set aside for yoga before prayers. Children also practise yoga during their free periods. Yoga is a wonderful gift and really helps them calm down. In addition,we ensure that every child excels in at least one sport but don’t force them to take part if they don’t want to.

What is your view on the controversy over cartoons in the NCERT textbooks that erupted a few months ago?

The contents of the books produced by the NCERT are matchless and the textbooks are excellent at all levels. Cartoons only play a minor role in illustrating and highlighting a point. They have to supplemented with graphs and charts. The decision of addition and deletion should be handed over to intellectuals,not biased politicians who only rake up these issues for their own gains.

In the backdrop of the country’s success at the London Olympics,are schools treating sports any differently now?

Academics and sports need to be balanced finely. That said,the timetable should be planned in such a away that children are free to play. Sports should not be a burden confined only to the P T class. It should be treated on a par with every other subject. In order to egg students on to play,teachers must lead the way. We have just finalised a dress code for teachers which will enable them to take part in sports This will set a good example for the children.

How can boards make life easier for visually challenged children?

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We are appealing to the CBSE and the UPSC that these children be allowed to answer the exam in Braille. It is a practical measure. It is difficult to find the right student to write for a visually challenged child in exams. But Braille will eliminate the need for them to depend on other children. We will make a presentation to the CBSE and UPSC in this regard.