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"How a Mumbai school redefines education"
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"How a Mumbai school redefines education"

Harmanan Singh picIndia faces a huge task in educating its youth. Harmanan Singh, 17, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Mumbai in India, says the current system has been faulted by employers, and describes one school that offers a markedly different approach.

“We are students of words: we are shut up in schools, and colleges, and recitation -rooms, for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Indian education system has often been criticised for being one dimensional, the crux of which focusses on assessment preparation. With an ever increasing population, the words most associated with education in India are ‘stiff competition’.

A survey of 303 employers across the country by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) in 2010 found that a majority of graduates lacked adequate “soft skills” to be employed in the industry.

Only about one-third employers were satisfied with the communication ability of their employees and about 26 per cent with their employees’ writing ability.

An April 6 report in the Wall Street Journal highlighted this growing mismatch between the labour force and the skill set available.

“India graduates millions but too few are fit to hire,” the report says.

At the hands of an obsolete system, soft skills take a back seat to Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. Institutions have collectively failed to prepare students to tackle potential problems that they might encounter in their lives.

I am a grade 12th student attending R.N. Podar School, Mumbai. Here’s how my school has redefined education and instilled responsibility, confidence and a set of “life skills” in me. I have attended a couple of schools prior to joining this school two years ago, probably the best decision my parents have taken for me.

“Life skills” is the golden phrase here. To start off with, social media and networks have been embraced. Facebook and WhatsApp are being increasingly harnessed as platforms for discussion and sharing of perspectives on issues ranging from politics to terrorism, from sport to technology, from movies to art -moving on from orthodox and traditional beliefs about the perils of social networking engagements.

In pursuit of building the character of its students, my school has enabled or provided conditions conducive to the practical establishment of wandering imagination. Students are organizing large scale events and projects running into thousands of dollars. Under the vigilance of the school, we approached organizations, set up venues, designed and formulated events from scratch, advertised and carried out promotional activities, handled accounts and finances.

Where student initiatives are appreciated and allowed to blossom, is where true education exists. In a country where most institutes are churning out students like manufactured commodities, all fitted to the same mould, at Podar every identity is cherished. In a country where talents go unnoticed or neglected at the hands of academic endeavours, at Podar, these sparks are generating ripples.

My learning curve has shown an exponential rise in the two years I have spent in this school. It is probably like an oasis, surrounded otherwise by stifling stagnancy. To other institutes, R.N. Podar has set the ball rolling- Take inspiration, impart quality education and let creativity flourish.

photo credit: Plu_Plu via photopin cc

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About me:

I am a Grade 12 science student in Mumbai, India. I am an explorer with an endeavour to visit every nation on this planet. I aspire to be a travel journalist and experience varied cultural vibes across geographies. Wildlife, debating, poetry and entrepreneurship are some of my other interests.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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