the aim of providing world class education to each student, this 125 year old school still believes in the traditional value addition system among the students. Fr Santy Mathew S J, Principal, St Joseph’s School, in conversation with Pragya Gupta, Elets News Network
Please share the experience of St Joseph’s School’s journey of 125 years
Established on February 13, 1888 at Sunnybank in Darjeeling town, we started functioning with 18 boarders and seven day scholars. In 1899, the student body consisted of 193 boys. By 1947, the year of Independence, the number reached 422, including 93 college students.
Changes in the school department were dramatic. There was a steady increase in the number of day scholars. There had always been a scattering of English, French and German boys, now students from China, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, Thailand and Burma started arriving. In 1954, 28 nationalities could be found in the college, including the staff.
At present, the school has 500 boarders, 700 day scholars and 81 teaching staff. The school celebrated 125 years of its existence in 2013 and Pranab Mukherjee, President of India inaugurated the Jubilee celebrations on November 10, 2013.
What changes do you envision in the school education system in India?
These days education has become nothing but pure business for many. Schools are keen on world class education not value based one. But some schools still care about enlightening students with knowledge and values both. With several boards coming up, say, foreign boards and many different Indian boards, children have got brilliant options to choose from.
What is the best way to adapt to technological advancements?
We encourage children to do lots of practical work as I believe the more they practice it, the more tech-friendly they will become.
What are your views on current value education system in schools?
I think until and unless it is practiced it has no value at all. During the winter vacations, we open the school for the poor children. We host several courses on spoken English courses, Mathematics, Computers, extra-curricular or cocurricular activities. We arrange free lunch for them. We believe that by introducing value education books in the school, we cannot solve the ‘moral education’ problem. That is why we give our students an example by serving the society in any way possible.
As far as co-curricular or extracurricular activities are concerned, I have noticed that our students have amazing talent in almost every field like music, singing, dancing, acting etc. But academics still needs a little push from the parents’ side. Last year, we had organised a workshop for parenting. We brought people from outside to conduct it which became a huge success.
Recently, when I went to conduct a workshop at a school, parents who were present complained that the teachers are kept changing frequently. I asked, “how many of you want your children to be teachers?” Not a single one replied in affirmative. It’s unfortunate that most people opt for this profession not because of their passion for this but because they have no other decent option left. Nowadays more and more teachers are looking for money through tuitions, some of them actually left the institution mainly because they were not allowed to take tuitions. But exceptions are always there, as I have met many who were inspired by their own teachers and wanted to be like them.