Rashid Sharfuddin, Headmaster of one of the well-known schools in Uttarakhand, Selaqui International School in an exclusive conversation with NewsX for its special segment NewsX A-list shared his experiences, vision, ideas, and opinions on various dimensions of the education sector.

Rashid Sharfuddin, a known name in the education sector, has also written a paper titled ‘Marginalised communities and educational exclusion in North India’. Under the leadership of Mr. Rashid Sharfuddin, Selaqui International School has been providing cogent education to students. Now when the pandemic is at a peak, the school is way ahead with news ideas and technologies and continues to provide quality education to its students.

When asked about the ways in which the school has been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Rashid said, “We have always been very particular about using blended technology in our classrooms. It has been part of our education for the last 20 years. And it was much easier for us to shift to what we call the online mode. But the biggest challenge was to get the kids back home well in time, and that all happened very smoothly. But having said that, it is important that as a school, we also realize that we must not impress upon students to spend too much time on their laptops and on phones because of their health issues attached to it.”

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“So we have created a system and policy which does not allow interaction more than about three to three and a half hours in a day of teachers, who have been extremely supportive. They have curated their research and they have worked on their handbook of assessment, resources, and pedagogical framework and have shared with the students. We have also been counseling the students online. Their parents have been much appreciative” Mr. Rashid added.

Selaqui International School has a reputation for providing excellent results. Speaking about what mediums they adopt for excellent outcomes, Rashid Sharfuddin said, “We take academics very seriously. In fact, it’s a myth that boarding schools do not pay as much attention as other schools. And this fallacy has been strengthened over the years without realizing that these schools’ results are actually not only of the schools, but also of a web of support system that has created at home tuitions. I think that it is important to realize this. But in boarding schools, we have to provide that support within the school. And we were quite quick to realize this. In the last three years, we have been debunking this myth that we can’t do well in academics as results in Dehradun have been among the best, if not the best. In fact, the last three years we have been doing extremely well.”

Mr. Rashid further asserted,”Our batting average is almost 92 percent. And this is quite an interesting figure. The college placements have been improving over the years because we believe that not just the result we look at, we look at student till the time they finish college. That’s an interesting phenomenon that we have been marking and keeping track of. And, of course, it is possible because of sustained effort by colleagues, by students. We map everyone’s progress in a school in a month.”

Rashid opines that he believes in student learning and leadership. He added that the school has redesigned the curriculum to focus on inquiry-based learning with research and technology as a strong component. On asked about the school’s philosophy, he further said, “We look at sports, music, art as an essential part of the educational process and not a side dish. We are a small school with just about 300 students, but a really expansive campus with all facilities required for the development of a child.”

“It’s important that the school is able to provide the kind of support a child needs in in his or her growing years. At the heart of syllabify education is excellence, happiness and nurturing of human values, is what we do as it feeds on these three philosophies,” he added.

It is important to mention that his school has adopted five schools around Selaqui where it engages in teaching, designing lesson plans with the teachers, helps in the use of technology, and building infrastructure.

It also runs a school on campus for children of adjoining areas, children who are come from the working groups. This all managed by children. Mr. Rashid points out that every child is expected to spend three days in a village studying and supporting the economy and connecting with locals, and working in the field of soil conservation, water conservation, among others.

There has been a lot of discussion over the issue of opening the school following lifting the restrictions in a phased. Rashid Sharfuddin, in his conversation, opined that he is in support of opening the schools. One of the reasons, according to him, is that due to the constant use of technology, there have been adverse effects on students, including mental and psychological means. He further adds that with proper social distancing, and taking full precautionary measures, schools can open. He also mentions that boarding school should be among the first ones to open.

Finally, extending his support to the National Education Policy, Mr Rashid asserted, “National Education Policy is a step in the right direction, but I also believe that the major concern is the implementation of the policies. I am excited that the policy talks about competency-based testing, no rigid separation of classes etc. But, the problem will remain unless we do not get young teachers in the sector.”

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