“There is a need for career-oriented learning in schools”

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Opines Mohinder Sheokand, in conversation with Varsha Verma as he feels that skilling should start at the school level so that children can map their career plans early in life.

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” -Malcolm X

Mohinder Sheokand
Mohinder Sheokand

The quality of education is improving and various private schools have come up to fill in the void. With majority of population living in rural areas, it has become pertinent to educate them and bring them at par with their counterparts living in urban areas. One such school in Assnadh, Haryana is Vivekanand Vidya Niketan. Varsha Verma met the owner Mohinder Sheokand to know about the nuances of running a school.

Mohinder Sheokand, the man behind Vivekanand Vidya Niketan, did his M.Sc. in 1990 and the very next year, he started a school from a rented house in Jind. “The take off was simple. The school is still running by the name of Supreme Senior Secondary School,” he shares. The Vivekanand Vidya Niketan school was established in 2005.

Though the school has a well-defined administrative staff; still Mohinder is actively involved in the functioning of the school. “The overall supervision is done by principal with my guidance. I do not interfere in their working and they carry out day-to-day functioning of the school meticulously,” he says. “I am more involved at the pre- and primary level,” he adds.

Challenges in rural environment…

Lack of good quality teachers remain one of the biggest challenges for schools operating in rural environment. As Mohinder puts it, “Karnal is 50 km away from here. So, we try to find good teachers from Karnal and settle them here in Assandh.”

Another challenge which Mohinder points out is that since parents of most of the children studying in their school are uneducated, they cannot help their children with studies.

Yet another challenge which Mohinder faces is that since children in rural environment do not have adequate facilities to pursue other activities, school has a bigger role to play. “We offer facilities for other activities like debates, quizzes, cultural activities, dramatics and of course sports,” he says. “We have also started the coaching for NTSE and IIT for students of classes 9-12.”

Overcoming challenges & raising standards…

“We conduct regular trainings for our teachers and students. Very recently, we conducted an English development programme, wherein a group of students and teachers were taught basic English,” he shares. “Besides, all our staff is not that qualified and so we train them on a regular basis.”

As far as parents are concerned, Mohinder tries his best to have a positive integration with them. “Regular orientation programmes and meetings are conducted for parents so that they get involved in the learning process of their child. We try to make them understand the importance of education and ask them to give their child an environment to study at home. Our focus is always on positive parenting and we try to inculcate the same in the parents of students,” he explains.

Mohinder has also tied up with Mylestone for activity-based learning and to equip teachers with necessary tools. “Mylestone curriculum is specially designed for empowered teaching and easy learning. Their implementable and pedagogically appropriate material helps our students to experience the “why behind every concept instead of just mugging it up?” So far, the teachers and students have liked the concept and we hope that children will have a better learning experience,” he adds.

Besides, they also try to motivate their students by giving them scholarships. “Last year, we gave scholarships worth Rs 3.5 lakh. We also give incentive to teachers if children fare better,” he says.

On present curriculum…

Asking about the changes he would like to see in the present curriculum, Mohinder shares that he would like curriculum to be more career-oriented. “Since the competition is very high, students who do not score well do not know what to do after they finish schooling. If the curriculum is career-oriented, they will be able to recognise different streams as well. I think the Skill a Million programme of Indian government should start at the school level,” he opines.Mohinder also feels that books should be upgraded every five years and so should the teaching mechanism. “The focus should be on learning. Books are just tools with which the teachers can work. So, it is important to strengthen the teachers,” he says.

Message to teaching fraternity…

“Teachers should always try to improve their teaching methods by using different techniques and methods. They should regularly attend training workshops to upscale their skills. Our focus should be on students and learning. It is important to assess how much a child has learnt and learning should be activity-based,” he says.

On a concluding note…

“The liaison with all stakeholders – be it school, teachers, parents and students – should be amicable. It is the duty of the school management to make their teachers comfortable and relaxed so that they can manage their students better and concentrate on learning. Schools should focus on overall development of students. Sports are very important as they are required for health and mental strength,” concludes Mohinder on a happy note.