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Aug 01, 2017 at 05:37

As Bal Bharti Public School, Manesar completes its ten years, Tanima Kedar spoke to the principal Ujwal Malhotra, on the journey and its challenges.

What was the idea behind the foundation of the school?

Child Education Society, the apex body of Bal Bharati Public Schools and other institutions of Higher Education was set up in the year 1944 during the pre-independence era when the elders thought that Indian Culture, Heritage, Tradition and Ethos must be preserved and in order to achieve its objectives, it became obligatory for the Society to educate the young people.

Eminent philanthropists, educationists and professionals comprise the Board of Management of the BBPS group.  Under the dynamic leadership of its President the pace of expansion quickened and the need for opening a school was felt at IMT Manesar, when a huge industrial complex was set up by the HSIIDC. Our strong commitment to the quest for excellence in the field of education made us conceive the idea of BBPS Manesar to provide world class educational opportunities to the children of those working in this Industrial  Model Township.

Ten years on, how has the journey been for the school, and for you as the principal?

The school  opened its portals to the children residing in the vicinity in April 2008.  The journey has been an arduous one, jolting us out of our complacence, for 45 kms away from the capital it is a totally different world altogether. The schools for which in Delhi parents would queue up at nights to get the admission forms were unknown and unheard of in this developing township.  The demography of the area did not develop as had been envisaged and we were left with scouting for enrolments from nearby villages, where sending a girl child to school was not a very attractive proposition and explaining how different our school was from the local school owned by a ‘big-wig’ was a challenge in itself.

Fortunately I am blessed with good ‘people skills’ and keeping my proficiency in English and German language aside, I learned to interact with the locals in a language that they would understand. I was always accessible and the single point of contact in times of conflict resolution. Travelling almost 100kms everyday to my work-place was in itself a challenge. One had to reckon with heavy duty trucks and trawlers, frequent traffic jams, delays on account of water-logging, accidents or road blocks. Yet the love for my children kept me going. I had to live up to the expectations of those parents who had reposed their faith in me and entrusted the future of their  kids to my care. It was a moral obligation for me to ensure that my children evolve into academically strong and morally upright individuals who when they step out of school are ready to face ‘Life’. Over the past eight years the road to success has smoothened out quite a bit, both literally as well as figuratively.

Kindly talk us through some of the special achievements of the school.

When one is determined to walk the path of excellence, awards and accolades do follow; chief among them have been ISA accrediation by the British Council, Green School Award from the Centre of Science and Environment, the CBSE sponsored school award for Health and Sanitation  where we had All India rank 4 etc.

Our first batch of students has performed commendably in the Class XII CBSE Board Exams by securing in high 90s. Yet I feel that  special achievement of our school lies in the fact that ours is a ‘happy’ school. Children play, sing, dance, learn and perform in a non-threatening, congenial environment.

Our students are participating in MUN Workshops, conducting video-conferencing, collaborating on international projects, winning  national school games competitions- isn’t  it the beginning of a glorious journey ahead?

We value time and we value relations. We believe life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself.

How would you describe the educational philosophy of the school.

Ours is an institution which is essentially a community space for childhood explorations and creative self-discovery, a place for  a dialogue between all who share a special bond with the child. Our prime role is to build bridges between the Teaching Community and its Students, between the School and the Parents, between Students and the Society, between Cultures and Nations-between Human Being across the globe.

Education is child-centric and holistic, ensuring the capacity building and professional growth of teachers and character building and man-making of students.

 What are some of the challenges you feel we face today in the education sector, as a principal and an educator?

With penetration of technology in every field, with fast changes sweeping the educational firmament, with newer career options opening up by the day — teacher is already an endangered species, always plagued by the fear of being rendered redundant if he/she does not upgrade her instructional skills. Adding to that are factors such as information revolution, a fragile social fabric, hyper sensitive and overprotected kids, stretched for time, short on temper, high on expectations parents, government policies in a flux. As educators we have to learn to endure, adapt, manage and skilfully manoeuvre around the obstacles to all acts of initiative and creation and commit ourselves to definite excellence.

How has technology changed the face of education?

One cannot close one’s eyes to the reality that technology is making vast inroads into our lives and education can not remain untouched by it.  Technology should be used as a tool to augment the teaching-learning process rather than be treated as a threat to our very existence.  Since education has to be paedocentric and children are very techno-savvy, it is in our interest that we make friends with this new tool. The children too need to understand that no technology can ever make up for the personal touch, the gleam of appreciation in the teacher’s eyes, her nod of approval, the envious glances of colleagues-all of which enhance your self-esteem and spur you on to  strive for excellence.

What are some of the goals you have set for yourself, in the coming future?

Firm must be the Will, Patient your Heart and Passionate your Aspiration to attain the fulfilment of your goal which is to develop academically proficient, morally upright and socially integrated individuals for meaningful change to occur.

But as an individual as well as an educator I would also like to learn to treat all my students with the same love and respect, irrespective of their  academic attainments, to appreciate each individual for his/her uniqueness, to communicate with the inherent goodness present in each one of us, to ensure that my school is the preferred destination for all seekers of knowledge.

How accessible is the school for the parents?

Parents are our partners in education and make the third angle of the triangle which has students and teachers as the other two.  It is appreciated if the parents restrict their visits to the school during visiting hours to not hamper daily classroom transactions.  The school, however, opens its portals to the parents at regular Parent Teacher interactions, meet the Principal, open days, exhibitions, school functions and various other competitions.  The parents also come in  periodically to deliver lectures or interact with students on topics of their interest and expertise.  Parents are a huge human resource that is put to optimal use in our school.

What is the school’s policy with regards to dealing with indiscipline?

As educational institutions it is our duty to groom socially integrated individuals who adapt well to the changing needs of the society. It is our endeavour to ensure that discipline comes from within and the child learns to stay away from what is socially unacceptable.  The school is a learning ground for children; they in their pre-adolescent period do indulge in antics, pranks  and at times deliberate acts of indiscipline and all methods of counselling, mentoring and monitoring are employed. Since corporal punishment is totally banned-through these methods the child is made to realise that if an act of indiscipline leads to damaging school property or any physical harm to others, he must learn to take responsibility for his acts and make suitable amends for it.