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“Working for society, students get the education of the heart”- Principal, K. C College

“Working for society, students get the education of the heart” Manju Nichani, Principal – K.C. College, Churchgate, tells Shraddha Kamdar when talking of the myriad ways in which teachers can motivate students to march ahead in their lives

After 40 long years of working with the college, she is looking forward to spending the last four months with her students and staff in an interesting manner. The minute she told me that she is retiring in February next year, my first reaction was that it would be difficult to think of K.C. College without thinking of her. Under her strong and able leadership, the college has thrived and reached new heights with each passing year. It was a privilege for me to interview Principal Manju Nichani of K.C. College, Churchgate, and learn from her vast experience.

My first question as an educator is always related to engaging students to be active in class, beyond the syllabus. “There is a lot we can do to engage the students in the arts stream, although for commerce it poses a bit of a challenge. Even then, the commerce syllabus accommodates the aspirations of those students who opt for training simultaneously for professional courses like chartered accountancy,” says the dynamic leader.

Talking of the science honours programme started at K.C. a few years ago, Principal Nichani explains that the goal is to create a research aptitude among the students at the SYBSc level. “The students work on their specialised module for 18 months, and are so engaged, that now their papers are published in national and international journals,” she proudly narrates, saying that the seed of research sown so early on in the students’ minds encourages them to pursue their PhD or even look at options abroad. She explains that in such a situation, the role of the teacher is enhanced and mentions that the faculty members at K.C. come to college on holidays to guide these students. The college does its bit in keeping the labs open and functional with support staff on these non-working days. With the shared time between the students and the teachers, the relationship strengthens and progresses to that of mentors and mentees.

With the success of the science programme, the commerce and the arts stream have also introduced Certificate Programmes in Commerce and Arts (CPCA) where students learn skills like communication, time management and engage in personality development programmes. “We started three years ago with 26 students and that number has shot up to 71 this year. The students also work on research, but the area is social issues,” the elegant educationist informs.

Apart from the traditional streams, the students of specialised degree programmes also have the opportunities to build skills outside the classroom. The mass media department has introduced several new programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level over the last few years. The department annually conducts the Cube Series at the start of the academic year to welcome and initiate students in the field of media, where they interact with dynamic personalities and professionals from the industry. This interaction then continues through the year in the form of various seminars and guest lectures.
A unique idea that the college has now introduced is the B4 Mall where students of four programmes – the BAF, BMS, BBI and BFM get together and bid for stall and space in a mall which is constructed in the sports room of the college. “The students bid for and buy their stalls, and then get the products to sell. They learn how to construct and carry out their business plans, and generate profit,” Principal Nichani says. This year, students created stalls for items like ice creams made on the spot with liquid Nitrogen, distinctive photo-booths with props and the like. The idea was to create high returns on low investment.

“I, as a person, strongly believe in social science, and we have a very proactive NSS team. The team was worn the Best College Award for NSS for the last six year,” Principal Nichani says. The team has adopted a village in the interiors of Maharashtra, where the students organise camps for cataract surgeries for the villagers, apart from having constructed toilets in 40 homes over the last few years. A new initiative that the NSS team has taken up for the village is that of ‘Kanyadaan’ for the girls of the village. Under this initiative, if a girl from the village has passed a minimum of class 10, and is over 18 years old, the team funds a modest wedding for the girl, including getting her new clothes, utensils and a little jewellery.

A feather in the hat of the NSS team came in the form of funding for another 60 toilets for the village from Niranjan Hiranandani, the President of the HSNC Board, under the aegis of which K.C. College was established in 1954. “When he realised how the lives of the villagers have improved owing to the 40 toilets that our NSS team helped build, he came forward with the funding. He felt that the students could raise the funds on their own, but it would take them longer,” she proudly says, “with NSS, they get the education of the heart.”

As we steer towards talking about academics, I raise my concern about how students are always running behind marks. Accepting the fact that the system is such that a high score is needed to confront the first step anywhere, Principal Nichani says that only academic success, however, doesn’t take one everywhere. “Over all, you are not a complete person if you haven’t gone beyond academics. Attitude matters a lot and you can see that among all the students who participate and work behind the scenes in all the festivals of the college. I believe that we, as educators and leaders, have to create the platform for them and offer them opportunities to participate and excel in diverse fields,” she adds.

The Principal then happily informs me that just the previous day K.C. College had won a football tournament from among 231 colleges at the University level. “That’s what I mean by creating opportunities. We cannot expect every student to score high in academics. If a student wants to excel in sports, then we have to create the opportunities. That’s how we build the various football teams in the college. It is applicable to every field. Say for instance, a BMM (mass media) student may be tremendously interested in photography, but she or he may not be a rank holder. It is for teachers like us to identify the potential, cultivate the skills and motivate them to march on.”

The discussion soon meanders towards the philosophy of education, where Principal Nichani points out that there is a need to change attitudes and mindsets. “We have left out spirituality out of education. I feel that success is important in life, but failure in equally important. We need to teach our students how to accept failure and deal with it to move on. This is one of the reasons why frequent student suicides occur, since no one has taught them to love themselves.”

At that juncture in the interview, I ask her for a message for our student readers. “Do your best, leave the rest. If after doing your best, you don’t succeed, learn to say never mind!” the vibrant Principal concludes in her inimitable style.

Original: http://www.freepressjournal.in/education/working-for-society-students-get-the-education-of-the-heart-manju-nichani-principal-k-c-college-churchgate/967869
By: Shraddha Kamdar
Posted: November 7, 2016, 10:24 am