Interview with Educationalist Mrs. Asha Sharma, FounderPrincipal & Manager, “Indian Learners Own Academy”, Kuwait

As a part of delivering Quality Information to all the Indians living in Kuwait, Q8india.com, a Community Portal dedicated for Indians living in Kuwait arranged an Interview with Eminent Educationalist Mrs. Asha Sharma, the Founder Principal and the Manager of “Indians Own Learners Academy”, Kuwait.

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Mrs. Asha Sharma B.A. (Honors), Pol Sc, B.Ed, M.A. (Pol. Sc), M.A. (History), all from Delhi University, is an eminent educationalist from Delhi, rendered over 34 years of service in the field of education as a teacher, administrator and as a Head of the institutes, presently runs Indians Learners Own Academy primary and higher secondary school in Kuwait. She has rendered her services in several well known institutes in Delhi and Kuwait. She was the founder principal of Indian Central School Kuwait, Founder principal of Indian Educational School Kuwait and she is the Founder Principal and Manager of “Indians Learners Own Academy” in Kuwait. She is the recipient of National Award for the teachers from the President of India in 2008. Her simple personality, insight, vigor to pursue goals, commitment and excellent management skills helped her to achieve what she has achieved today.

Mrs. Sharma has authored several books in Economics, History, Civics, Environmental Studies, Social studies and General knowledge. As a free lance writer, she has penned a number of educational features and articles for leading dailies and popular magazines in Kuwait and in India. She has organized a number of workshops and in-service training programs for teachers in Kuwait.   She has hosted 11th& 17th conferences of the council of CBSE Affiliated Schools in the Gulf. She was the convener of Kuwait chapter of CBSE Council for 6 years. She has managed CBSE helpline and tele-counselling services from 1998 to 2010. She was the Secretary of ‘the council’ from January 2005 to January 2006 and Chairperson of ‘The Council’ from January 2006 to 31st August 2006.

She is on the list of CBSE inspectors for affiliation and upgradation of schools.

Following is the excerpts of interview with her:

 Q8india.com :

Is the present education system fully capable of producing responsible future citizens who uphold the ethical and moral values in life?

Asha Sharma:

No. Our educational system is evolving still, and there is a lot to be done more to call it a perfect system to produce perfect citizens. As a matter of fact all the educational Institutes should have the ambition to inculcate good and desirable values among students for which conscious efforts are to be made through value education classes, ethical and moral activity classes, seminars and career counseling programs etc. Students have to be trained to take pride in family values, community traditions, human right values etc.

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With regard to producing responsible future citizens who will uphold the ethical and moral values in life, I believe that the four stake holders are equally responsible for every child in the field of education namely the student himself/herself , parents, teachers and society. Teachers and school of course have a major role in child’s growth but we can not ignore the other areas. As far as moral and ethical values are concerned, even the neighborhood or the streets where we live can also play an important part in a child’s education and leave an indelible mark on him/her.

Q8india.com:

What role a responsible teacher must play to eliminate social evils like communalism and corruption from our society?

Asha Sharma:

Children are very keen observers. The way, in which their parents and teachers deal with the people of other communities, they will do the same. It is rightly said that the influence of a good teacher remains beyond eternity and teachers can play a very vital role in eradicating communalism and corruption from society.

Students are deeply affected by the teacher’s love and affection, his/her character, his/her competence, and his/her moral commitment. A popular teacher becomes a role model for his/her students. The students try to follow their teacher in their manners, costumes, etiquettes, style of conversation etc. He/she is their ideal.

He/she can lead them anywhere. During their early education, the students tend to determine their aims in life and their future plans, in consultation with their teachers. Therefore, a good and visionary teacher can play a prominent role in making the future of his/her students while a corrupt teacher can only harm his/her students much more seriously than a class of corrupt and perverted judiciary, army, police, bureaucracy, politicians or technocrats. A corrupt and incompetent teacher is not only a bad individual, but also an embodiment of a corrupt and incompetent generation. A nation with corrupt teachers is a nation at risk.

The importance of a teacher as an architect of our future generations demands that only the best and the most intelligent and competent members of our intelligentsia be allowed to qualify for this noble profession. It is unfortunate to find that I have experienced that this profession is the last option of most of the people.. An important reason for this is understood to be the poor salaries of our primary and secondary teachers which are no better than that of clerks. A large number of our teachers are, therefore, frustrated and disinterested.

Our children grow up in the schools with children of different races, cultures, religions and backgrounds, wherever we live. There is no doubt that tolerance is the most necessary quality of our everyday life. Every student, every citizen and every individual has to culture the habit of tolerance. If we culture tolerance we will be free from all the pain of envy within ourselves. Then our soul will live in peace and happiness. Children from their early childhood should develop the habit of tolerance. The teachers and elders should guide them in this respect so that when they grow up there will be no hatred and communalism in the society.

Q8india.com

Do you think there is a need for more Indian schools in Kuwait, since admission to first standard is becoming difficult nowadays?

Asha Sharma:

I do not think that more Indian schools are required in Kuwait because there are plenty of scopes in the existing schools. For example, in our own school, Indian Learners Own Academy School, we have a lot of scope for admissions, all the seats are not yet full and I hope there is plenty of scope in other schools too.

 Q8india.com

With the increased exposure to internet and cell phone, what are the moral challenges faced by the teachers.

Asha Sharma:

The Internet offers many positive educational benefits to young students, but unfortunately there are risks, too. As in any other area of life, children and young people are vulnerable and may expose themselves to danger, knowingly or unknowingly, when using the internet and other digital technologies like mobile phones. Teachers have to arrange the orientation classes regarding the benefits of using internet and mobile phones and at the same time they have to train them to guard against the risks and ill effects of the same. Yes now the students are very well informed, so teachers have to prepare more and keep themselves abreast and updated.

Q8india.com

How parents can cooperate with the teachers to guide their teenagers in a proper way.

Asha Sharma:

School’s effort essentially depends on cooperation between parents, pupils, teachers and authorities. While responsibility for children’s upbringing is basically at the parents, teachers have the task to educate the children. Parents should attend parent teachers meetings regularly. They should draw the attention of the teachers on lacunas in a polite manner and offer their suggestions for the betterment.

Q8india.com

Do you think new CBSE system of education is better than the previous one? Do you think students and parents are fully convinced about it?

Asha Sharma:

New format of CBSE and old format of CBSE, it is having its own advantages and disadvantages. Nearly after three quarters of a century of our independence, our education system is undergoing a mega change to provide some scope in enjoyment in learning to our learners at schools. It was long overdue. It is a big challenge and the ones who have understood the problems of our learners will surely welcome the newly introduced system of education under the umbrella of CBSE international.

Learners Own Academy a (approved international school following pilot project of CBSE) school of CBSE-International located at Jleeb Al Shyoukin Kuwait is the forerunner of this system on being a progressive and child centered school. Its academic fraternity wants education to become learner friendly and understanding to take deep roots in students. Our traditional pedagogy of teaching through lectures or chalk and talk method has failed to satisfy our leaner’s curiosity in this era of computer technology. Our students have plethora of questions related to almost all the topics they learn. They want to get into how, what, why, where, when like questions on each topic. The paucity of time, diverse subjects and themes in old curriculum, busy life styles of parents and oceanic information on each topic does not let that happen, which is most required. Their questions are set aside to finish the syllabi and to train them in securing more marks and better grades through reproducing the same what has been taught to them. Marks may be replaced by grades, but the overall objective does not change and that is the “result”. If we have to really improve the results and we want them to be authentic then the only answer is CBSE International Curriculum. What, if the child gets centum score but has superficial knowledge in that subject. So the need is to change the very perspective of education for which parents send their children to the school.

 

Q8india.com

Please give me the brief history of growth of Indian schools in Kuwait.

Asha Sharma:

Well, I landed in Kuwait during 1994.   Before my arrival to Kuwait, there were some Indian schools in Kuwait. To name some of them are Indian Community School, Carmel School, Jabriya Indian School, United Indian School, gulf Indian school etc. Now the number of schools is more than three times of that.

Q8india.com

Many parents think that some schools are charging exorbitant fees, which is not affordable to parents with average income. How can Indian community manage this problem?

Asha Sharma:

Fees charged by Indian Schools are the lowest. One can compare easily. It is even lesser than the fee charged by the public schools in India. I know that the cost of living has gone high in Kuwait over the years, and parents find it difficult to make both the ends meet. We should sensitize the organizations and Kuwait Government about this rate of inflation and salary structures in all the concerns should be revised in the light of inflation.

Q8india.com

Teachers are said to be very less paid in Indian Schools in general, don’t you think it is affecting the quality?

Asha Sharma:

Teachers should have respectable salaries so that they give their best to the students. A happy teacher can only do the justice to her/his job. I know money is not everything and for many teachers there is no correlation between their salaries and performance but any domestic problem pertaining to economics of the household can disturb a person and can hinder a good performance. But here everything is interrelated. Good salaries are connected to fee, the students pay at school. The fee structure in Indian Schools in Kuwait is the lowest and so are the salaries of the teachers.

Q8india.com

There are Indian professional colleges like Manipal and Birla institutes in Dubai, It may be a help to many Indian parents. What is the prospect for such institutes in Kuwait?

Asha Sharma:                                                     

I am official representative in Kuwait for RAK (Ras al Khaima) Medical College for Nursing & Medicine in U.A.E., and BITS Pilani at Dubai therefore it would be my pleasure to guide the parents in Kuwait who are willing to send their children to these colleges in UAE. As far as Mnaipal is concerned, we can tie up that area too. regarding the question of bringing them to Kuwait I would say only this that, I can help those people who want to take the initiative in this direction, but at the moment, I can only help students who want to seek admission in these two colleges.

Q8india.com

Tuitions are becoming a necessity in Kuwait , causing additional investment in terms of money and time for all? Do you think it is really inevitable?

Asha Sharma:

Again I have to say that teachers in Indian Schools are less paid, and that makes them to take up some tuition classes to meet their requirements.

Q8india.com

There is a complaint that teachers are not showing responsible behaviour as mentors of children. What is your opinion?

Asha Sharma

We cannot generalize it for all the teachers. There are all kinds of teachers. I have come across wonderful teachers in Kuwait and if such kind of statement is made, they will feel highly offended.

 It is expected that in an educational institute “EVERYONE SHOULD BE AN ACHIEVER”. The teachers and the Institutes should aim and encourage students to aim for excellence and to fulfill their individual potential – academically, socially and personally. Teachers and Institutes have to train and orient the students to become successful, confident and caring adults’ who will be able to play an active part in society where adaptability, enterprise and consideration for others are increasingly important.

Institutions have to take care that all the teachers and the students remain focused on excellence in all they do — academically, in extra-curricular activities, in professional development… and in behavior, where students are encouraged to strive for excellence and ‘anchor’ themselves in being excellent persons in every way.

“Teachers have to stimulate lessons and activities that successfully meet pupils’ needs and engage their motivation to learn and this can be an outstanding feature. A high priority has to be given to the development of pupils’ basic, key and wider skills. If the school is strict, then the individual teachers need not be as strict as the pupils know what to expect across the board and are less likely to push boundaries. This means teachers can teach without worrying, and if the teachers are having fun/enjoying what they are doing, building a good rapport with the class then the knock on effects can be fantastic. The teachers and the institutions have to strive on that its students to have high aspirations; their academic progress and examination success are ensured by top quality teaching, and traditional values of self-discipline, politeness, responsibility and sensitivity to the needs of others underpin the school ethos.

Q8india.com

What is your suggestion to parents to guide their children while continuing education?

AshaSharama:

It would be better if parents arrange some Aptitude test for their children through a clinical psychologist before enrolling them for higher education. Aptitude and ability tests are designed to assess one’s logical reasoning or thinking performance. They consist of multiple choice questions and are administered under exam conditions. They are strictly timed and a typical test might allow 30 minutes for 30 or so questions. Test result will be compared to that of a control group so that judgments can be made about abilities.

Aptitude and ability tests can be classified as speed tests or power tests.Speed tests questions are relatively straightforward and the test is concerned with how many questions you can answer correctly in the allotted time. Speed tests tend to be used in selection at the administrative and clerical level. A power test on the other hand will present a smaller number of more complex questions. Power tests tend to be used more at the professional or managerial level.

 Aptitude tests will guide the career which one should opt. I strongly feel that there should not be any interference in this domain by any one, either by teachers or parents. Students should pursue what they like, and then only they will enjoy the chosen profession and excel in life.

Q8india.com

In states like Karnataka our NRI students are not allowed to write CET entrance examinations, they have to pay huge amount of donations to get the seats under NRI quota or Management Quota irrespective of their parent’s income. But in states like A.P., Tamilnadu and Maharashtra NRI students do not have to pay the donations and they only pay the fees just like local students which are far less amount. Is there any solution which can help our NRI students/parents to come out of this burden?

 Asha Sharma:

Yes it is a genuine concern. This is a Government & political issue. NGOs or people’s representatives can follow up this issue with the concerned authorities.

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One Comment

  1. Abhishek Rastogi February 15, 2017 11:49 pm Reply

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