‘Even Sky is not the limit, it’s just the beginning’. Capt Sumant Dang, who is a trained commercial pilot & Founder of Rishikesh International School, has been preaching these words in his career life. Recently, he caught up in an exclusive conversation with NewsX wherein he showcased his journey from a pilot soaring the American skies to fulfilling the dreams of India’s children in the foothills of Himalayas.
When Sumant returned to his home town, Rishikesh, after completing his Commercial pilot training, the ground reality of the place shook his inner conscience. The obscure future of the young kids & poor education facilities in the town started haunting him and soon, for him, life was all about pursuing a new dream and passion. In July 2013, the North-Indian state of Uttarakhand was devastated by floods and landslides.
The floods wreaked havoc and as a result, Rishikesh too had to bear the brunt as its infrastructure was massively destroyed which includes educational institutes as well. To revive the lives & future of downtrodden, Capt Dang took the initiative from here & decided to work towards his idea of Rishikesh International School. He started operating the school in the foothills of Himalayas. He decided to provide ‘quality’ education to the young minds who remain oblivious to such basic rights & needs.
But this led to another question as to why Sumant decided to build a school in a rural setting & not urban. In reply, Sumant said, “We found this school in 2014. It was a challenging path as I wanted to open a school with a basic yet comprehensive infrastructure & big investments. I wanted to offer this opportunity to a rural area and so I picked Rishikesh, my home. The basic idea was to open a school in the nooks of the city where the idea of education is still a far-fetched reality. We’ve students coming in from foothills of the Himalayas who do not have even a basic structure to look up to. So, I am not here to build the future of the youth but to build the youth for the future”.
Rishikesh International School has its own style of working which further sets it apart from the other institutes. To mention, every child in the school has a separate guardian to whom he or she can look up to for any kind of help or advice. The idea is to not let the child suffer alone during the tough times and also to show the right path for the future. The school is also equipped with a number of sports facilities, further encouraging children to delve into extra-curricular activities. Apart from that, children are also being provided excellent lab structure. Further, keeping in mind the paying capacity of parents the school offers several types of discounts- girl child & army personnel. Also, someone who cannot truly afford to study in this school but is blessed with talent & hard work capacity is also given a special discount. What cannot be ignored is the fact that Rishikesh International School doesn’t fail to recognize the caliber of today’s youth.
But the journey till here has not been a cakewalk for Capt Dang. Talking about the challenges he said, “My father helped out a lot, initially. The paying capacity of families living here is less but we’re charging as per their requirements keeping in mind the factor-best quality education. Funding has been the center of the ‘challenges’ but the school is not into profit-making.”
Capt Sumant’s school got affiliated for the 10th board examination 2 years ago. This year was the first time when the batch of class X students sat for the CBSE examinations representing Rishikesh International School. As per Sumant, children outshined in the examination with a passing percentage of 90% & above. Most of the students passed with flying numbers. Teachers & students with their mutual efforts & perseverance prepared continuously for 2 years. The school is now looking forward to the next two years when the students will be appearing for class XII examinations.
Even during the time of lockdown in March, the school did not put a hold to the classes; rather in a very creative manner, conducted digital classes on WhatsApp. Gradually, the classes shifted to zoom extracting the best from it. Capt Sumant Dang has been running this school for a few years now. Students from above the hills have been getting best education but now the next goal for him is to extend the reach of education to the children who are still alien from the greener side of this world. He is now contemplating opening learning centres & conducting workshops. But before that Sumant is going to come up with a pre-primary school in the city of Rishikesh, very soon.