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A chat with a school administrator

Mr. Prem Sahu has more than 20 years of rich and extensive experience in school administration. Strategy planning, financial management, infrastructure development, student evaluation, curriculum management, and student and parent counseling are a few of his many core strengths.

Implementing operational plans for ensuring the smooth running of the school, providing leadership to teaching and administrative staff and ensuring high quality of teaching are few of his core competencies.

He is currently the Vice Principal of Oakridge International School, Hyderabad.


1. As a key member of the school administration, how important do you think is a parent-student-school relationship?

A parent - student - school relationship is highly important. This relationship is like a triangle, where the child is the priority or the focal point. The teachers and the parents form the other two sides. All that that has to happen, is that the teachers and parents have to coordinate to see that the child grows in every aspect. These two major forces in the child's life have to understand the child and then act accordingly. The emotional growth of the child happens at home while the social and intellectual growth takes place in school. So, without the triangle there is no success in the educational, emotional, physical and intellectual growth of the child.

2. You have had 20+ years of invaluable experience. What do you believe are two major changes in the education system in India today?

The major change in the education system today is the shift from 'chalk and talk' method to a more 'facilitator based' instructional classroom. When I was a student, the 'chalk and talk' method was used. The classes were very strict. We weren't allowed to move around, talk, ask questions and we had to accept everything the teacher said. The teachers were imparting education, transferring information from text books to classrooms. The imparting of knowledge was based on syllabus completion.

Today, things have changed. Classrooms and activities are designed in such a manner that the child questions the teachers and gets the answer. You have to facilitate the atmosphere, so that the child asks questions. So, today, a teacher is more of a facilitator who gives the child the opportunity to question as much as possible.

Curiosity is important too. It shouldn't be killed, but nurtured. More curious the child is, better the learning and the growth.

Subjects and topics today are more experiential in nature. This is another major change. If a concept has to be taught, there are activities which help the child experience or understand the concept better. In this process, skills, such as listening, thinking and speaking, are developed.

3. What do you think are the crucial issues faced by the standard of education in India?

The crucial issue is the mindset of the people. This has nothing to do with education. Schools focus only on marks and exams. And this concept has to change. The idea is to educate and help the child learn new things and understand things better and not score high in exams. If the concept is understood, the rest will automatically follow.

Another crucial issue faced is the vast diversity of the country, which a single national board has to cater to. The system has to have relevance to all, but finds it difficult as it has to cater to each and every individual.

4. Being a sportsperson yourself, do you think sports and extracurricular activities in school make a child more future ready?

When speaking about holistic education system, extracurricular activities become a major part of the school curriculum. You cannot judge a student with just academic knowledge. Activities outside classrooms are experiences in themselves. Arts and music play an equally important role.

When I was in school, I understood physics when I played cricket. The movement and the angle of the bat, the motion of the ball were all governed by the laws of physics!

If I have to judge myself as an able administrator, I have to ask myself if my students can hold conversation on any topic, for more than 5 minutes. If they do, I have done my part. If the child has just theoretical knowledge and no experience, the conversation he/she holds will be very limited. Extra-curricular activities give children experience and the confidence to face the world. It also brings about discipline. It does make the child future ready.

5. What would your advice be to a class 10 student, who is confused about choosing a profession for himself or herself?

With modern education, children know, to a certain extent, what they want and what they are good at. So, repeating my initial point, I would say that the triangle is very important. The child has to be guided by the parents and the teachers based on his/her talents and interests.

Jimmy Hendrix once said, "I would want to be happy," when asked what he would want to be when he grew up. Referring to his quote, I would say, success comes not in terms of wealth, but majorly with what one is happy doing. Today, when I look back at my students, they are into various fields. They are teachers, lawyers, engineers, some run NGOs and some are into professional sports. They are all happy with what they are doing.

My advice to class 10 students would be to understand what they enjoy doing the most and build a profession on that.

6. What according to you is the key factor in the smooth running of a school?

The key factor in the smooth running of a school is transparency. This will build a culture of bonding with people. When there is transparency in what you are doing, the commitment level of the people increases and the other aspects fall into place. When there is transparency in the system, there is respect for the other person and his/her ideas and thoughts. This is a chain reaction which results in exchange of ideas.

So, transparency is the key where all the stakeholders enjoy what they do and in turn form a successful team


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