Tuesday, October 9, 2012

BIS#3164 TAKING EDUCATION FORWARD: THE SALESIAN PRINCIPALS' MEET AT KOLKATA

BIS Mumbai                                                                                         

BOSCO INFORMATION SERVICE #3164

TAKING EDUCATION FORWARD:  THE SALESIAN PRINCIPALS’ MEET AT KOLKATA

Bernard Fernandes

 

WADALA-MUMBAI, OCTOBER 09, 2012 :  ‘The Salesian system of education provides the all encompassing aspects of education: Reason, Religion and Humanity,’ thus quoted the erudite Governor of W.Bengal, Mr. M.K. Narayanan, in his inaugural speech to the Salesian Principals gathered at Kolkata for the 2nd National Educational Conference Don Bosco Schools (NECDBS – 2012). Pressing his claim further, the towering personality– in all aspects, speech, knowledge, demeanour, versatility – that he is, Mr. Narayanan said that it is widely acknowledged across the globe that education is the key to progress, and therefore the need to ‘invest early, invest smartly and invest for all’.

Attended by fifteen Principals of the Mumbai Province – we had another five from our neighbouring  Konkan Province – the NECDBS 2012 was indeed a melting pot of culture, tradition and innovative ideas across Salesian India. Over 150 Salesian Principals from India and the neigbouring countries (that are part of the Indian provinces) participated in this 4-day conference at Don Bosco Park Circus, Kolkata, from 28th September – 1st October 2012. We were accorded a grand welcome in true Salesian and Indian tradition of dance, song and prayer at the inaugural ceremony.  The dainty dancers treated all present to some scintillating performances in Nepali, Santali, and Bengali dances, while the school choir looking dapper in their blazers enthralled all with some melodious tunes.  The holy mass later in the evening was celebrated by His Lordship, Bishop Joseph Suren Gomes, sdb, Bishop of Krishnagar.

The theme “Emerging trends in Education” was reflected in the many sessions and presentations by the resource persons and speakers, and supplemented by the reports (of the works in the Provinces).  In his forceful presentation, Mr. G. Balasubramanian, a doyen in the field of education, winner of prestigious awards, including Life Time Excellence Award, VIMHANS, Delhi,  and ex-Director (Academics) CBSE, quipped, “ The only constant thing in the last thousand years is CHANGE.”  He spelt out the challenges faced by the schools today, viz. challenge of uncertainty, challenge to step in the eye of competition, and the challenge of technology.  Future, he said, holds promise only for the ‘thought leaders’.  Alluding to the ten faces of Ravana, Mr. Balasubramaniam expounded the modern avatars of the Principal, and suggested strategies and means to manage these roles.

The other input sessions dealt with a range of topics, from learning disability, slow learners, Multiple Intelligences and the related skills to handle these, to the raging issues of today in administration and government policies vis-à-vis the RTE.  In another session, our regional superior, Fr. Maria Ariokam Kanaga, quoting the Rector Major, said that school education has an important place in the Congregation.  Schools are influential places from where we can form the young.  He called on the assembly to make clear our aim of education with an emphasis on Faith and Moral education, and a return to the Preventive System.  He had these wise words for us: We are not needed for what we do, but what we ‘are’ – our relevance lies here!

Fr. Joe Arimpoor, sdb, Director DBARK, New Delhi, while presenting an Action Plan to impart spiritualand religious values to students in Salesian schools, gave a clarion call to all Principals to be creativedynamic, daring and committed in facing the challenges in Education today.  Rev. Fr. Fabio Attard sdb, Councilor for Youth Apostolate, addressed the Assembly from Rome by video conference. We got a glimpse of the Salesian works in India through the reports of each Province – Fr. Boni D’Souza presented our Province report. 

A respite from these intense sessions came in the form of a Kolkata darshan that took us to the exalted precincts of the saint of Kolkata, Mother Teresa, and culminated with a relaxing boat cruise along the Hooghly river.  Having ensconced ourselves in the chairs aboard the cruiser, we were treated to some majestic sights of the (new and old) Howrah bridges, tasty snacks and ale, and some foot tapping music by a two man band.  The Mumbai Province delegates livened up the proceedings crooning some lively numbers that got many on the dance floor. 

 

The final session of the conference ‘Taking forward NECDBS’ on the last day of the seminar was conducted by Fr. Maria Charles, South Asian Coordinator for Education and Culture.  Challenges, action plans and future goals were deliberated at this session.  Indeed time to move forward!

 

Walter Isaacson, the biographer of Steve Jobs, in a recent interview to TOI Crest edition, was asked, ”What are the mistakes that the US has made in the 20th century that India needs to avoid?” His answer: ‘The biggest mistake that the US has been making is to allow its education system to slip from being the best in the world. It has allowed the educational divide between privileged and less privileged students to get wider... India should be at the forefront of creating great educational opportunities for all its people. ‘ Some challenge there for us Salesians!


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