Person of the Week: Rajeswari Sawant

Dear Readers,

In this interview series where we ask questions to people who are making a difference, it can be big, it can be small, it doesn’t matter, what matters is their contribution to our society. It can be anyone from any walk of life and from any country. Please, do send us suggestions of people whom you think we should interview for this series.

Ms. Rajeswari Sawant lives in Gwalior and is a principal at Gwalior Glory High school and chairperson at Sahoday, Gwalior. In 2013, she was awarded Teacher of the Year Award by CBSE. Following are her views on some of our questions.

  1. Tell us something about yourself?

I was born and educated in Bangalore. I have completed Masters in English from Bangalore University and have completed B. Ed and M. Ed from IGNOU(Indira Gandhi National Open University).  I am currently pursuing a Ph. D programme in English from Jiwaji University. The thesis is one ‘Territories of Spiritual Ideologies – A select study of the works of Raja Rao and R. K. Narayan.

As an accomplished educator, I am presently a Principal of Gwalior Glory High school, a Senior Secondary School having multifunctional skills in diversified areas, having expertise in man power planning, recruiting, staffing & training. I was winner of Teacher of the Year Award by CBSE in 2013, Resource person for CBSE and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan’s Zonal Institute of Educational Technology. Participated as an expert in the Expert Group Consultation on Responding to Needs and Concerns for Young people in Educational Institutions in India by UNFPA.

  1. What is your philosophy behind education?

Education should be to inculcate in every person the ability to understand knowledge and utilize it to practically execute it in life be it professionally or personally. It should enable a person to lead a life which is highly motivating and contributing towards constructive development of the self as well as the nation.

  1. What are some of the shortcomings of our education system in your view?

Though the curriculum of our Indian education system is well defined, the purpose of the curriculum becomes defunct due to the evaluation system based on which it is transacted. Knowledge is imparted both in schools and universities only to produce a mark sheet with high percentages which encourages more of rote learning rather than encouraging research, creative thinking, critical thinking, developing analytical and reasoning abilities. 

  1. What are some of the innovations that you have implemented in your school?

Since the strength at school is huge and the vision of the management is clear that every child should ‘strive towards excellence with activity in thought, adapt to the world of work, show concern for the environment and grow intellectually, physically, morally and spiritually’. Keeping this is mind, students’ inherent abilities and strengths are observed and channelized into various clubs like the astronomy, environment, heritage, sports, literary, music, photography, film making and many more such clubs where they are able to give vent to their talent and hone their skills. Based on these, the students are guided into career paths they are best suited for by administering Interest and Aptitude tests and both parents and students are counseled. The ethos of the school is to develop every student into a confident, knowledgeable and good human being who is a great asset to the nation and the world. 

  1. Do you have any ideas about education of underprivileged kids?

The Right to Education Act of 2009 is one of the breakthroughs made by the government where children from underprivileged and economically weaker sections are given admissions in mainstream schools where education is imparted free of cost. Besides, through the Outreach programme at school, teachers and students visit slums, villages nearby school, orphanages, homes for the blind, and teach children basic literacy like the letters of the alphabet, and numbers. They are also taught about the environment and hygienic habits. 

  1. What are some of the issues that you see in students these days?

With the Joint family system collapsing in India and more of nuclear families emerging, the strong moral and emotional support that students should have is lacking due to which they have become very aggressive, unsocial, dependant on the virtual world through television, internet and mobiles. This has led to a very poor health index as well as the happiness that one should see in children. With both parents working in most of the families, children are left to fend for themselves leading to them being misled easily by anti social elements resulting in drug misuse, abuse and lack of moral and spiritual adaptability. 

  1. What’s your opinion on instilling discipline in kids does corporeal punishment work? What’s your take on this?

Discipline needs to be built in children right from the time they begin to understand. So, the onus lies both on parents as well as school. Discipline is required to be well managed both at school and home. That doesn’t mean that one resorts to abuses and beating or troubling a child by taunting him for the mistakes he makes. A child should be made to understand the repercussions of the mistake and ground rules must be clearly explained. Parents should not cover up for the child and be accusative of school when the school takes action. In fact, school, parent and child should be well amalgamated so that all are working towards the overall development of the student.

  1. Do you think children are losing their childhood in preparing for competitive exams and do we have an alternative?

Yes, certainly. When these are the years when focus should be on the intellectual, spiritual and physical development of the personality, children from grade seven are lured into the system of coaching classes which only automate the students to crack competitive exams using tricks without explaining the concepts that lie behind them. The mad rush of parents to admit their child in such coaching institutes leads to an end to innocence and childhood. Good schooling with dedicated teachers is sufficient to crack any examination. The parents need to have faith in the schooling system and stress on the child’s regularity to ensure this. Teaching technical, creative, literary and various other skills to students is of greatest importance today as skilled people are a paucity in India. 

  1. What would you suggest to students to reduce stress of their studies and to their parents?

Students need to break one day of 24 hours into four quarters. One quarter of 6 hours for sleep at night, the second quarter to be spent at school, the third quarter to studies with each subject being devoted 45 minutes with a break of five minutes to de-stress. Using a soft smiley ball and pressing it or bouncing it on the wall, walking briskly for five minutes to unwind, or breathing deeply, or listening to soft instrumental music would help during this five minute break. Interspersing of difficult subject with an easier one would help in balancing. The last quarter of 6 hours can be devoted to socializing with friends, playing, helping out at home, watching television for a few minutes, etc. Parents need to ensure that their children have a place to study at home which is well ventilated with light and air, a proper study table with no distractions in the room, nutritious food at regular intervals and a strong emotional bonding for their children to fall back on parents when in need. 

  1. Your message for our readers?

Since education is on the threshold of a challenging future, each and every individual is morally responsible to ensure that quality education is ensured to each and every individual irrespective of caste, creed or nationality. It is the right of every child to be educated in the true sense so that he can stand up for himself and earn a decent living at the same time contributing towards the development of the nation.

5 Comments

  1. Indra sharma says:

    Very encouraging and sensible answers
    I like it very much.

  2. Poonam Raizada says:

    Congratulations to Indian perioical for initiating the series ofPerson of the week. It was nice to know about Rajeshwari Ma’amas a person and as an educationist.

  3. Prachi Bhatnagar says:

    Its a proud moment ma’am…..especially for us as one of your teammates as you often qoute about your GGHS teachers ”This is my team”. Heartiest congratulations for your amazing selection as the Person of the Week. Wish that each one of your dream related to the coming generation may come true and we may contribute our educating skills to inculcate all goodness among them as a human and as an important citizen.
    Each shared word of yours is absolutely correct. Hope to become a part of the upcoming revolutionary education system that can fetch a platform to students where they actually learn knowledge and earn wisdom for them.

  4. Heartiest congratulations ma’am. Its a proud moment for your team GGHS.
    I wish each of your dream related to the upcoming generation may come true and we may contribute our educating skills to inculcate all the goodness among them so they bring up themselves with their real essence as a true human being and a responsible citizen.

  5. Congratulations mam u answered nicely. Indian woman from the start of the time has been endowed with infinite qualities,we see in our companion woman the capacity of earth silence of the mountains. She is the sacred statue of mercy, and love.

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