At the time when people are habitual of depending upon the government for each and everything, Vidya Bharati motivates the Principals of its 12,363 Senior Secondary Schools to be a change maker in social and academic sectors
Smt Renu Sharma is Principal of Bharatiya Vidya Mandir High School in Udhampur, Jammu. She handles 400 students, including 80 Muslim students, in the school. What makes her different from other Principals in the country is that she motivates her students to educate the illiterate in the surrounding villages. She first conducts survey of the villages and then starts literacy classes through the students belonging to mostly the same village. Such experiments are being conducted in many villages including Sambal (about 18 km from the school), Krimchi Mansar (about 20 km) and Nansoo (about 12 km). As a result more than 100 villagers are now able to read, write and count. Renu Sharma also educates people about water conservation, cleanliness at water bodies and also eradication of some social evils. Now on request of villagers, the school is soon going to start similar activities in those villages.
Be the Change Agent: Modi
“Vidya Bharati is preparing to celebrate its golden jubilee next year. Can we fix some special targets for that year? Principals should think of developing their school as a brand. We believe in acquiring knowledge from everywhere. Therefore, we should be ready to learn good things from anywhere. At the time when the world is discussing climate change, can we make it a mission for all our 12,000 Senior Secondary Schools to plant and nurture saplings at their surrounding lands. This will connect the students not only to environment protection, but also to the society as a social cause. Similarly, the 32 lakh students studying in Vidya Bharati schools can also become leader in energy conservation. If one student persuades only ten families for electricity conservation we can easily save 20,000 MW electricity in 100 cities alone. What could be more patriotic action than saving 20,000 MW electricity annually? This would help us to provide electricity to each and every house. We can start it by replacing the traditional bulbs with the LED in all our schools. Similarly, our 32 lakh students should also become a change agent by educating children in their localities about hygiene. Vidya Bharati should also think of converting at least one school in every State as a model school. We also need to prepare digital record of all the present and past students so that one message reaches to all within seconds. We should not refrain from using the technology. Distance from science and technology hinders the progress. We should accept the change in positive way,” said PM Narendra Modi.
Smt Renu Sharma is not the only change maker in Vidya Bharati system. Dr Krishna Veer Singh Shakya, Principal of Parvati Prema Jagati Saraswati Vihar Senior Secondary School, Nainital, has also taken some initiatives worth emulating. Scarcity of teachers in government schools in Uttarakhand is a known fact. This hampers the study of the students. “As a remedy we started four schools for the students who are not able to go to schools regularly. We have also skilled more than 75 women from surrounding villages in stitching. Now a skill development centre has been opened in the campus with sanction from the University Grants Commission (UGC), which offers two courses in Banking & Finance Services and Desktop Publication. We have also started an Industrial Training Institute (ITI). In future we have decided to focus more on need-based skill development,” Dr Shakya told Organiser.
Sharda School run by Ramakrishna Tapovan Trust at Tirunelveli District in Tamil Nadu has taken a very bold initiative. In the area where the school functions, caste-based violent clashes are common and sometimes they take a fatal turn. People of one caste kill the members of other castes for no reason. Instead of focusing on adults, the school has started moulding the young minds through special moral classes. “In the beginning we found that the teachers displayed reluctance to take weekly moral classes, as they had the pressure to finish their syllabus and then prepare the students for Board Examinations. Hence, we trained the students of 9th and 11th classes to take the moral classes. Every student is given 20 to 25 students of lower classes. This also helps in their personality development. Later, these trained students take similar moral classes in their surrounding villages. As a result, the caste based clashes have come down and a feeling of tolerance and co-existence is increasing,” says Sadhvi Yathishwari Neelkanth Priya, Secretary of the Trust.
Made 100 people literate in three villages in the surroundings of the school
“I am proud to be the part of this change taking place with the inspiration of the Vidya Bharati.”
Geeta Niketan Residential School, Kurukshetra, Haryana, has earned good reputation in the region for the steps taken by it for empowerment of girl child and implementing the flagship programmes of Central Board Secondary Education (CBSE). The teachers of this school train the teachers of other schools and are thus playing a lead role in academic circle.
There are many schools run by Vidya Bharati which play an important role in their surrounding areas. Encouraged over the initiatives and also to achieve the goal of becoming a leader in value based education, Vidya Bharati has now decided to encourage all 12,363 Principals of its Senior Secondary Schools to take up a lead role in social and academic circle of their surroundings. It was with this objective that the Vidya Bharati organised a three-day National Conference of such Principals in Delhi from February 12 to 14, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Vigyan Bhavan. In the Conference various leading educationists and experts from different areas guided the Principals on how to make the task more result oriented. The theme of the Conference was ‘Key Role of Principal in Social and Academic Scenario’.
“An average Senior Secondary School normally has 2,500 students with it. If we count five members in a family of a student, about 12,500 people of the society are associated with the school. Apart from that, there are about 125 teaching and non-teaching staff members. Since the schools are functioning since decades, around 10,000 alumni and their family members are also there. In this way, about 25 to 30,000 local people are directly or indirectly connected with the Principal of a Senior Secondary School. If the Principal leads them with a particular vision he can be instrumental in ensuring positive changes in the surrounding areas. The gurukuls in older times had the same role in society. The modern Principals too should don that role. This Conference was organised keeping in view the same vision in mind. The Principals shared their experience with each other. We hope after going back they will be instrumental in any of the big change in their respective areas,” said Shri Shivkumar, national secretary of the Vidya Bharati and convener of the Conference, to Organiser.
All 980 Principals from 457 districts, who attended the Conference, took a pledge to take up any of the social activity in their respective area. “Attending the conference has been very educating. We can now start many social activities involving our teachers, students, parents and the alumni. I would like to focus on skill development, which I feel is direly needed today. Since a Principal is a bridge between the society and the school, he/she must come out from the school premises and play an active role in the society. Before expecting any change in society, we should be a role model,” said Smt Saru Pathania, Principal of Bharatiya Vidya Mandir, Amphalla, Jammu & Kashmir.
“Students join the society after completion of their education. Our responsibility is to develop a social vision in them. We should also take a lead in sensitising local people about their needs like water conservation, health education, tree plantation, etc. Unfortunately, people in our area do not have access to qualified doctors. Hence, they direly require preventive health education. Similarly, water scarcity is also a big issue. We have to motivate the people to conserve water too. We will do it after going back from the Conference,” said Smt Heguibamle Ngame, Principal of Saraswati Vidya Mandir Residential School, Boro Haflong, Dima Hasao, Assam. Smt Bornali Barua, Principal of Shankardev Vidya Niektan in Jorhat, Assam, has planned to work for environment conservation. “We will also educate the people about harmful effects of plastic,” she said. “We will have to change ourself if we want to see change in the society. If we practice certain things in our schools, only then we can motivate the people in our surroundings through students and their parents. After attending this conference, I have come to know of many activitiess, which can be taken up through schools,” said Smt Nisha R Nair, Principal of Vidya Bharati Vidhyapeeth in Allapuzha, Kerala. Smt Kavitha RC, Principal of Aravinda Vidya Mandiram Sr. Sec. School in Kottayam, Kerala, is already focusing on energy conservation by motivating the students and their parents to use LED bulbs and curb the misuse of electricity. Focus of Smt Srikala Vettoor, Principal of Gayathri Central School in Kottayam is at value education. “Just imparting modern education is not enough. We have to carry forward our age old rich values. We try to develop the mindset of the students so that, after growing and getting higher education, they do something constructive for the society,” she added.
“Education is not limited to the classroom, books, teachers, academic infrastructure. It is beyond all these things, because the ultimate objective of education is to sensitise students towards the country and the countrymen. Therefore, a good academic leader plans the things in such a way so that the students learn and are connected with the social activities. This is what Vidya Bharati wants. We want the students should be competent enough to deal with the problems of the deprived people living in remote areas. The theme of this Conference covers many such aspects,” added Dr Shakya.
“Many Principals feel that other schools in their surroundings are their competitors. But we do not think so. We say the children studying in any school are the children of the same nation. If they are also developed, only then the total development of the society and the nation would take place. Hence, the Principals of the schools should try to develop the whole society and not just confine to their schools,” emphasised Sadhvi Yatishwari Neelkanth Priya.
Patron of Vidya Bharati Shri Brahmdev Sharma “Bhaiji” stressed the need to develop model schools in every State and also spread the work in all the uncovered regions. He said, “Our goal is to develop a model for value based education. Hence, move forward while taking the like-minded organisations and people together.”
Vidya Bharati organising secretary Shri Prakash Chandra stressed on developing the schools as a brand. “The schools in our surroundings are not our competitors. Take them along and be the change maker,” he said.
Swami Tejomayananda, head of Chinmaya Mission, said the objective of education should be to spread literacy, culture and dedication. “The early we know it, the committed generation we shall be able to develop,” he said. Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani sought Vidya Bharati’s help to reconnect the dropouts to classrooms. “If Vidya Bharati helps us in this endeavour a big change can take place in the country,” she said. Pramod Kumar