It’s quite simple to work on things that are in a poor state but what do you do if everything is already sorted? This was my feeling, when I walked into Citizens’ High school in Frazer Town. The school has been with Mantra for one and a half year now and the transformation is quite evident. The systems and processes in the school are already set, the teachers follow lesson plans and the principal is looking forward to make a long-term vision for the school. The school has a fully functional library with books for different learning levels of children. To top it all, the school is also equipped with a resource room that is utilized by teachers for planning their lessons. What else can you ask for?
When I came back from the school, I was quite lost. I could not understand what I should fix, if things are already in a good shape. After some thinking and a conversation with Revathi, the School Transformation Lead for Citizens’ High School, I realized, good is just the bottom line of what we want to achieve with our schools at Mantra. The aim is to help them in their journey from good to great. Post this, I was really excited and was looking forward to my work. Now, instead of trying to look for issues that can be fixed, I focused on making things better. So, I spent time working with the teachers and understanding how they can make their teaching practices more effective. We started thinking about project-based unit planning which will help students develop higher order thinking skills (HOTS). For instance, how does one apply the knowledge to practical life.
I also started working with the students and helped them prepare for IGYS (International Geography Youth Summit) conference. The energy and enthusiasm that children bring to opportunities like these is really a delight to behold. They came up with topics that we as adults would never really think of. The highlight for us was to know that one of the topics of the paper presentations – The taboo geographies of Menstruation, was recognized as one of the best abstracts by the IGYS.
The principal is quite impressed by the work done by us. While praising the efforts put in by Mantra, he mentioned that change in the education system is impossible without passion and we really need people to work in the field of school transformation to achieve that. It was inspiring to know how he thinks of the educational landscape.
Revathi spoke of the things she had done in the school but I have never seen her taking credit for any of it. She keeps telling us that it would have been impossible without the willingness of the teachers to learn. It has only been a month in this school and I already feel a part of this family. This is how accepting the culture here is.
I remember, Khushboo mentioning during our induction, that Mantra is a very humble organization aiming for a revolutionary outcome. Working with Revathi and the school staff has now helped me understand what it meant. I hope in the journey ahead, we bring about the revolutionary outcome that Mantra hopes for and take Citizens’ High School to much greater heights!
-Written by Ms. Rifath Fathima, School Transformation Lead, Mantra4Change