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`Students will not get everything delivered on a silver platter…` – Dr. Ashok Wadia – Principal, Jai Hind College

“… they have to have a vision for it,” Dr. Ashok Wadia – Principal, Jai Hind College, Churchgate tells Shraddha Kamdar

He is always a part of the classroom, and that’s one thing he hasn’t compromised even after becoming the principal. He needs his quota of interaction with the students, and so his open door policy works very well for him as well as the students. The students are more his friends and less his mentees. That’s the ideology with which Dr. Ashok Wadia, Principal – Jai Hind College, Churchgate operates upon. During my several interactions with him, I have, without fail, come away with learning something new – as an educator, as a leader as well as an alumnus of the college. This time was no different.

“I agree that colleges affiliated to the University work under certain constraints, but we always look at improving quality. I strongly believe that it is left to the teacher to use the resources available to the optimum. I feel that I, as an educator, do not have to rely completely on the syllabus drafted in general for so many colleges and handed to us. Instead, we can support the curriculum by providing additional experiences to the students,” says the passionate teacher.

Dr. Wadia mentions that the additional experiences could be in the form of add on courses and of course guest lectures. “By guest lectures, I do not mean generalised lectures for the sake of it. I want to make these lectures count and call highly experienced and qualified experts to focus on issues relevant in current times and pertaining to specialised topics. For instance, in mass media classes, I might invite a senior journalist to offer perspectives and talk of changes that are applicable in modern times, which prepares the students for the challenges of the future.”

In addition, the principal mentions that Jai Hind College has its own Board of Studies, even though it is not an autonomous college yet. “We started it two years ago, and we have industry members as part of the Board, so the impact on currency of the curriculum is quite huge. I feel that it is essential for colleges to offer these opportunities to students to do different things even outside the classroom.”

When he mentions all of this, I am enamoured, since it takes a certain kind of student to undergo these various experiences. I ask him what he expects out of his students then. “I mainly tell them to look at a few aspects, including their personal development, future growth, and setting goals to achieve to achieve this growth,” he says. Something unique that he does is that he tells the students to come to him and demand what they want and need to fulfil their goals. He says he always leaves the ball in their court. They can look at anything that is being implemented in any college or university, even abroad, and come to him, asking him for it. He will discuss with them the feasibility of implementation and how to go about it.

According to the experienced educator, students today are extremely exposed to everything that is going around them, so they need to be respected for that. “In our times, we as students were not aware of so many things as they are today. So we have to take steps that we do not restrict our teaching to the present but also take care of the future,” Dr. Wadia says. He offers as example that say for instance, if the placement cell says that the student candidates need more grooming, then they have to work towards it. He adds that thankfully Jai Hind is so well connected with its alumni that he can tap into that resource to fill in the gap. “I can always call upon the alumni who are happy to give back to their alma mater. I call upon them to come talk to the students and offer them insights on what the industry expects out of fresh graduates. They talk about the skills that students need to develop and how they can go about it. This is something that every college is trying to do,” he says.

For bringing about this change, Dr. Wadia says he encourages the students to go for internships as much as possible. He says that the companies may not offer the students the jobs immediately, but via internships, they can definitely test the skills and abilities of the students. That’s the true test of their knowledge, application of the knowledge as well as their ability to adapt. “For me, the importance is that they come back and tell me from their experiences that what we should be doing better as a college to train them for real professional life. This will help the next set of students tremendously, to gain an upper edge.” He adds that he periodically asks for such a feedback from the interns, the recent graduates who have been in the industry for a year or so, and from the older alumni who have spent a few years in the corporate sector. All three groups offer different perspectives in the timeline

from being a student to progressing into a professional.

Apart from the professional development, the principal says that it is essential that students also enjoy their time in college. Here, the participation in events does not depend on the field they are studying in, it is totally interdisciplinary. For instance, he says that they have a Shakespeare festival and celebration every year to promote the understanding of literature. “This is beyond the curriculum. There are exhibits and discussions, and plays. This is all with a view to contemporise Shakespeare and his writing. It has to fit in today! It is like Shakespeare in the 21st century.” Dr Wadia says that even with passage of time, human nature does not change, and Shakespeare had examined human nature extremely well in his work. So students understand human behaviour, emotions, language as well as nuances of literature through this festival, and it is not limited to the arts stream. Everyone participates!

Dr. Wadia goes on to offer another example related to his stream – science. “If I have to teach the history of science, I have to put it in a particular context. For students, science cannot be limited to just memorising a reaction. They have to actually experience the reaction as if it is going around them. This is necessary that students are involved in thinking in three dimensions. The student should not be limited to only being smart. We have to train them so that they don’t be merely service providers but become be producers and creators.”

With that we are nearly at the end of the time we have for discussion. I ask him for a message for our student readers. He says it is simple: “I always believe that every student has to keep in mind that things will be delivered on a silver platter to them. So they have to have a vision which should be supported by their knowledge and hard work. Most importantly, they have to be tenacious

and positive towards life. They should not give up.”

Original: http://www.freepressjournal.in/education/students-will-not-get-everything-delivered-on-a-silver-platter-dr-ashok-wadia-principal-jai-hind-college/982006
By: Shraddha Kamdar
Posted: December 5, 2016, 1:27 am