Stan Blogs

Stanislite Monsoon Trekking

Today was the last of the Summer swims for Stanislites organized by SSESA at the St. Stanislaus pool. It was great meeting with so many Stanislites of different backgrounds and age groups.

The surprise today was meeting with a largish group of Class of 1993 who were having their re-union for the Mumbai based guys. Of course before the fun began they made a trip to St. Stanislaus. Unlucky for them being a Sunday they could not get a "Stanislaus Darshan".

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Lessons for Talasari-Uplat

Tapping into the retail magic

by Manraj Grewal

From: Indian Express 27/04/2007

Rev Father Lawrie SJ ... you sit on the riverbank no more ...

At the St Stanislaus' Education Programme farewell on March 10, 2007, I was honoured to be given a chance to bid Fr Lawrie 'Au Revoir'

Running a school - a bystander's view (2)

Continuing on what I learned about school operations on my vacation to Mumbai.

St Stanislaus is a government aided school, which means the government pays the salaries of teachers (I guess number of of teachers are arrived at based on some Teacher : Student ratio). The school is also given a grant (called a non-salaried grant) that is approx 6-9% of the salary grant aimed to support expenses related to infrastructure or other activities that the school finds appropriate. These funds tend not to reach the school in time and the school has to resort to alternative means until these funds reach the school. The percentage of the non-salaried grant has dropped from 15% a few years ago.

So how does the school do the magic of creating 2 computer labs with 30 networked computers each? Or set up an audio-video room? How are material and salaries covered? From what I understand, the school sets up so-called 'management teacher' positions that are funded through additional fees that the education department permits the school to collect and by donations, grants etc raised by the school from other sources (the education department has a cap as to how much can be collected). I would suspect that there is a fair amount of bureaucratic and financial gymnastics involved to make this work (ofcourse, the paperwork is good to employ an army of clerks at the Education Department). From the post on the Dadar school getting computerized, I read that they also are using the 'extra fees' mechanism to finance their projects.

On the matter of fees: The education department has stipulated that standard I pays Re. 1/- per month, Std II pays Rs 2/- month and so on etc. Talk about being creative in devising schemes. Anyway, with all the additional fees and charges the average fee amounts to around Rs. 1500/- to Rs. 2000/- per year. Would seem less than what a student would pay monthly on tuitions.

The school has managed to attract good teachers -- but reservations can always throw a spanner in the works and the balance of teachers (I guess the max. standard 50% quota for OBC candidates applies). To aggravate matters, the school is apparently compelled to employ teachers with a D.Ed (diploma) and not a B.Ed since B.Ed teachers come in a different cadre/bracket which would tip the ratios and percentages that strain the model the bureaucrats have set up.

It seems like there are a number of mechanisms that generate paperwork (jobs for bureaucrats?) in school while adding little value to the overall education experience. These can only steal time from school administration while also introducing barriers that reduce teachers' motivation.

Is there anything SSESA can do? Make or mobilize for change? At first glance it appears to be a huge task; however, if 'we pick our fights' and try to understand the (dysfunctional) system and the operating conditions, we could contribute with small changes that can transform the education experience for teachers and students. Creating a holistic description of the objectives and goals up against the existing situation and ground realities can help identify and prioritize the actions needed. That would help bring SSESA, PTA, teachers and school administration on the same page. It will take some time to implement all these changes, but we could also 'hurry up slowly' by aiming for 2013 --- that is when our school will be celebrating 150 years.

Dream 2013 could be more real than most dreams

PS! I have a rudimentary sketch on paper and have been toying with the idea of fashioning a 'blueprint & roadmap'. However I need help on the ground; is there anyone out there interested in joining me on this venture? Drop me a line at fdsilva@online.no

African Boarders of St. Stanislaus HS

I got a very interesting mail inquiring about two African boarders of St. Stanislaus from Gloria.

I was not aware we had African boarders till Frank Mascarenhas a former boarder mentioned it recently. I need to ask Frank about this. If anyone can point us to these two Stanislites mentioned in the mail below please contact us or post a comment.

Running a school - a bystander's view (1)

If the SSESA exists to prod and egg the school on, then what are the school's goals? I am trying to understand where the SSESA should be 'helping' the school. What are the areas that it has prioritized? A couple of months ago I posed the question to the head of the Bombay Province of the Jesuit Education Organisation -- fellow Stanislite (1961) Fr Francis de Melo (who also happens to be an IIT B alumnus). In a private mail exchange, he shared with me 3 key objectives

<quote>

1. High quality education.
This means getting away from the present ways: "India Today" examined the 200 best schools in the country and found all of them "deplorable".

Today's systems in India do not have methods that prepare a student for the world of today: complex, yet full of opportunity. We do not base our methods on multiple intelligences that would reinforce each other (particularly interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalist are ignored). We do not use mental exercises which would develop brain agility for creativity and problem solving.

We do not cater to different learning styles, particularly the kinesthetic. Instead all we offer is a huge pile of mostly useless-for-life information that must be memorized.
 
2. It must be high quality education FOR ALL.
Jesuits do not want to be only catering to those who can pay for high quality. A key part of our goal is to bring good education to the poor masses.

3. We want our education to develop joyful, deeply human persons, not workers.
This means a value education that is based on a personal quest for what life is all about...

<end quote>

Earlier this month, while in Mumbai on vacation, I followed up this mail exchange with a face-to-face meeting with Fr Francis de Melo, to get a better understanding of the system. He shared some of the challenges facing the school at an operational/practical level as well as at an ideological level. To me it seemed that India Shining has changed a lot, there is unfortunately a lot that has not changed. Lethargy, bureaucracy and corruption are unfortunately still the order of the day. 

During our conversation it became clear to me that there is a big difference between the discuss of the system (i.e. ISCE, CBSE or SSC) and the actual implementation of the system at a given school -- schools within the same system can be vastly different. It all depends on execution. Anyway, as far as St Stanislaus goes, the school has much flexibility in how education for standards I - IX is imparted; the recommended syllabus can be rearranged and sections replaced at the discretion of the teachers/administration. All that matters is that students are prepared with sufficient content for a common board exam (std X). The school has put the 'SSC or ICSE' debate past them, as switching from SSC to ISCE is no solution in itself. So, the challenge at hand is how can the school excel while still staying within the SSC system? There is apparently a lot of freedom to do this; in fact from the little I have managed to grasp, SSHS has exercised this flexibility and has done and is doing a number of different things all while still working within the SSC system. It struck me that possibly this was part of the secret that made SSHS different (at I was in school all this was quite boring)

Seems like an area SSESA could channel energies and resources to improve the overall educational quality. SSESA with its large network can help make St Stanislaus a school that attracts the best teachers in the country. Giving teachers and students access to a network, equipment and teaching materials that makes going to SSHS a memorable experience. Giving students opportunities of extra-curricular activities in their formative years that stimulate critical and independent thinking (so that once they reach std X, they crack the exam AND have had a great time AND that builds character). Giving teachers and students reach, reach to a wide network to interact with their peers in other parts of the city - state - country - globe. That's where the global Jesuit network also plays in. The school does have a 9-year window (from Std I - IX). and SSESA has an opportunity to influence -- and all without going through change of system or anything as drastic.

Can this happen in the next year or two? Unlikely, but it will definitely be better than not doing anything. Is there a master plan? Not any that I have seen. Are we organized to take up this challenge? Definitely not. Can we organize ourselves better? DEFINITELY. And it will never happen on its own -- nothing ever does.

On this same trip to Mumbai, I also met with the previous principal Fr Lawrie Ferrao and separately with the current principal Fr Jude Fernandes. I also met with a couple of teachers, the lead teacher for the Computer Lab and the Librarian that is for later post.

Aaj Ki Taja Khabar! - The Belgadi Days!

Here is the city beat

- Only 4 Management Committee members attended SSESA meeting this Monday.

Science Laboratory

For all you stanislites out there who have fond (or traumatic?) memories of experiments in the science labs - here's some news. Plans are afoot to overhaul the science laboratories. Currently we are in the process of getting rid of all the ancient equipment and archaic apparatus plus the biolgy specimens which have probably fossilised over the years. Later we'll probably look into what we need. Any suggestions/ideas/or just good ole memories?

GROW AT THE GRASSROOTS!

I recently read about how Overseas support is important and how these members are important but what about the 1200 odd SSESA 'registered' members?


Sesquicentenary Inauguration
Stanisvoices

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