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Educating Beyond the Classroom

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Educators should approach teaching as a ‘vocation’ and not simply as a ‘profession’, opines Kavita C Das, Principal, St John’s High School, Chandigarh, during her conversation with Mansi Bansal

Please tell us about the growth story of St John’s Schools. What’s your mission and vision?
We were incepted in the year 1959 when the Christian Brothers were invited by the then government to begin a school in Chandigarh.  Today, more than 50 years later, St John’s has introduced a senior secondary wing and grown from an initial strength of about 100  boys to more than 2,000.
We are an Edmund Rice Educational Institute and work at forming a community composed of students, teachers, parents, management  and other staff.
The central purpose of the school community is the religious, moral, intellectual, physical and social education of the student. This  community seeks to create an atmosphere of genuine care and concern for its students.

What distinguishes St John’s from other schools?
St John’s is different from other schools because it teaches its children to have a heart. We give a lot of emphasis to value education and it is not confined to the classroom alone. Our outreach programmes inculcate in our students a deep sense of compassion and a  moral responsibility for those less fortunate. It is this ability to reach out to others that will truly impact our society and make a worthwhile difference.

What are your views on the various government policies like the RTE and CPE?
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 is the work of a visionary who has striven to bring about a paradigm  shift in education in our country. Change, unfortunately, is always treated with suspicion.
If CCE is implemented in the spirit in which it was introduced, it will allow children to develop in an all-round manner. Education will no longer be a rat race for marks alone. CCE will allow education to be seen as a healthier approach for the all-round development of  children.

How do you think will ICT enhance learning?
Whilst ICT integration enhances the quality of learning, we should not consider it the be-all and end-all of teaching. Education goes beyond ICT and is essentially, a matter of the heart. That human factor can never be replaced.

Please elaborate on the digital solutions you are using in the school.
St. John’s has two fully-equipped computer laboratories with the latest software. We also have a multimedia room, which is kept updated with the most recent programmes designed to assist learning. Not just this, our students design the most innovative teaching presentations as part of their projects and these are also integrated into the library.

Do you think IT will help the education sector to progress and reach to the last mile?
So long as there are dedicated teachers and a committed government to spread education, the roots of learning will spread with or  without IT.

What are the key elements that make for the visionary schools of the 21st century?
The greatest key element that will make for the visionary schools of the 21st century is when the educators take up teaching as a ‘vocation’ and not simply as a ‘profession’. Teaching has to go beyond the mere goal of imparting of knowledge.

What’s your message to the parents?
Parents need to open up to the inputs from teachers. Only when the school and the parents work together with trust, the child will grow and benefit.

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