26 Feb, 2024

A School with a Difference (1)

Congratulations to Numaligarh Higher Secondary School on your 60th Anniversary!

Although my association with Numaligarh Higher Secondary School is not too old, the relationship is strong and dynamic. Working on a project in the school since pre COVID, but actively executing it since 2023, I had the opportunity of visiting the school a couple of times. Each time, I come back with wonderful memories, which provide much hope and encouragement to carry our work forward in the school.

Introducing Value based Education to the school by our Trust, ADI (Assam Development Initiative) brought us close to the school community: from the principal to the teachers, students, staff and parents. The VbE (Value based Education) Project, pioneered by ADI believes in embracing the entire school, each and every person in the school including the parents who we understand are an integral part in the advancement and growth of the student and should work in tandem with the teachers for the child%u2019s development.

Traditional 'Value Education' upholds certain aspects of programming a child's mind through a rigid curriculum-based classroom teaching based on a particular set of universal values. This process leaves no room for the child to develop the critical thinking skill sets that are necessary to deal and cope with the challenges of today's increasingly changing world. On the other hand, the 'Value based Education' agenda adopted by ADI promotes development of 'ALL' in the school including the parents based on the relevant values, selected jointly by themselves. The process involved in this VbE(Value based Education) and Child Development Project is designed to create an environment for the children where they are given the opportunity to develop a creative and a  positive mindset. As soon as the adults of the school community demonstrates their ability to inculcate these values in their daily activities and interactions, the student will follow naturally by example. This is considered to have a lifelong impact.

Our Project team comprises of Coordinators who are placed in the practicing schools to regularly go through the everyday process of value implementation. Counseling and advice from professionals are provided to the school and on many occasions, our ADI Chairman, Mr.Hiren Sarma a resident of Houston, USA, who is also the sponsor of the VbE project visited the Numaligarh High School along with ADI President and VbE team to lend their expertise. One such event remains vivid in my mind when the teachers, students and parents, at the behest of the school's Principal assembled in the school auditorium. The hall was packed but the audience was disciplined and attentive. After preliminary introductions, presentations and speeches by ADI members and our VbE personnel, the audience warmed up to an engaging interaction. It was heartwarming to see the spontaneity of the parents and the vibrant session which we shared with them interspersed with folk music and dances brought us much closer to the entire school community.

My last visit to the school with the VbE team was on a cold, wintry morning, early February'24 to kick off the Measurement Process. A Measuring Tool has been introduced to monitor the progress of our ongoing VbE project. Warmly received by the Principal, Shri Mohan Saikia with hot cups of garden-fresh tea and his untiring ability to offer support and cooperation in our work, the exercise went off well. Without disruption of classes and any other school activities, our team conducted a survey among the students and teachers alike. While the survey among the students was carried out, I enjoyed the privilege of spending some time in the principal%u2019s office. Along with the hot tea and crisp biscuits, I savoured those moments spent in observations of my surroundings. What I noticed and felt during that time were lessons (values) to be imbibed. Not one to sit on the big chair behind the big table and issue instructions, Principal Mohan Saikia Sir was up and around with his staff, students and visitors alike. In spite of the constant stream of people pouring in, teachers and colleagues from DIET (District Institute of Education and Training) who were undergoing training next door, he gave his time and attention to each. He joined us for an interaction with the teachers in the presence of SMDC President, Mrs. Sangeeta Rabha which was very enlightening. His kind hospitality speaks volumes when he very cordially invited us to a nourishing and delicious lunch with his teachers. What distinguishes the school from many others are the qualities of unity, cooperation and harmony. Joining us for discussions over lunch and thereafter by the teachers reflected a strong sense of camaraderie that is noticeable. The kind-hearted, humble and grateful Man, that Mr. Saikia is finds expression in his display of powerful feelings when he broke down, mourning the loss of Dulal, his close and young aide who tragically lost his life in an unfortunate train accident, a few days ago prior to our visit. In Saikia%u2019s words: %u201CIf today, Dulal would have had been here, all of these, our meetings and works would have been documented with pictures and videos%u201D.  For young Dulal was like his shadow, always by his side, noting and recording every detail.

Early evening, we took leave with a Sunday appointment at 10.30 am to visit the Numaligarh tea garden Line No.5 where we intend to meet the guardians on their non-working day.  Not tired of working on a Sunday, Saikia Sir along with his team of dedicated teachers went along with us and gave us the necessary support in our mission to create and spread awareness of good values among the children and the community. In fact, we feel privileged and proud to have Ms. Sarula Tanti, a former student of the school and a master%u2019s degree holder from the tea community in our VbE team. With her dedication and sincerity, she should be able to   contribute towards the welfare and development of the children of the school and the community at large. At Line No.5, we were received by a lively and enthusiastic group of mothers, a few grandmothers and the spirited Headmaster of Numaligarh Primary School whose exuberance in meeting us and listening to us was noteworthy. Their enthusiasm was very inspiring for us, and we carry high hopes. A major disappointment was the absence of male guardians. We have to keep in mind that both parents have an equal role in child development. And very noticeable is the fact that the women folk from the tea gardens are all working women!

After the practice of the 1st value, 'Responsibility' in the school over a period of more than six months, we are on to the practice of the 2nd value, 'Discipline' selected jointly by ADI and the school community. ADI's Value Tree stands tall in the school premises displaying the values in practice and the values to be practiced and standing tall, amidst all is the Chief himself, the kind and dedicated Principal. The values of Responsibility, Humility, Sincerity, Punctuality, Kindness, Respect and Dedication to name a few, emanate from his personality to be followed and adopted by the school community. 

Certainly, Numaligarh High School is schooled with a difference. 

 

Upasha Boruah Phukan

President and Managing Trustee; ADI


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