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“There is so much exposure, that students are attracted towards everything!”, says Dr. Shilpa Charankar- Principal – Dr. BMN College

Dr. Shilpa Charankar, Principal – Dr. BMN College of Home Science, Matunga, tells Shraddha Kamdar, among many other things in an interview on student motivation and development

It is the first time in many years of being an education journalist, I walked straight into a principal’s cabin without any ante room, without any peon or assistant as a screen, much in accordance with the open door policy that she talks about. She says that anyone in the college can approach her whenever they want, and she believes in transparency. So much so, that her teaching and non-teaching staff are well aware of her schedule and methods very well. That she is always looking at ways to improve the prospects of the students shows in the ideas the college has implemented over the years, and how they have been able to change the mindset of the girls students over a period of time from looking at education as a by product of the system until marriage to now considering it as a stepping stone for a means to independence and livelihood. Dr. Shilpa Charankar, Principal – Dr. BMN College of Home Science, Matunga, affiliated to SNDT University, talks at length of the various ways in which students can be encouraged and motivated to do well.

“In our college we focus on all round development, and for that we have to go beyond the curriculum. For the last 12 to 15 years, we have been conducting a personality development programme for our home science students, which are extremely important today. We have experts from the industry coming in and teaching some of the modules, and we have noticed a difference in the understanding of the students,” Dr. Charankar says. She adds that under the home science programme, practical training is also essential, and that’s why internships help.

Another feather in the hat of the college is that it words towards providing education to the girl child, no matter the marks or financial capability.

So students with average marks also apply and secure admission to the college. Also, annually, the management of the college spends about Rs. 18 to 20 lakh in supporting the students from the disadvantaged sections of society.

An interesting step that the girls college has taken in foresight is introduced marital counselling for the students, keeping in mind that the divorce rates are increasing by the day. “The fact is that at some point most of the students are going to get married, so what better platform than the college to administer this counselling? I am not saying that they need it because they marry very young, but that we want to do this well in time, so that the students are aware of what they are heading out to in future. This is done in the form of a two-day seminar, completely with experts practising in the industry who come with various examples each year,” the distinguished principal says.

Since the college houses both junior and degree college, I ask Dr. Charankar whether the students are always worried about the marks they score instead of focussing on learning. She says she cannot blame the students for that. “There are so many different attractions for them today, and they have such exposure that they are bound to want it all.

That’s why, apart from the marks, I tell them to focus on knowing their potential and realising it. I know that they are so tech savvy and with everything on their finger tips, perhaps they will acquire the knowledge somehow, but the values they need to learn at his stage in college,” she says.

In her three decades of experience, Dr. Charankar says that the most rewarding moments that those when former students come back to the college and tell her how the college and its nurturing made a huge difference in their careers and lives. “When they thank the institute, I feel it is my greatest achievement.”

Dr. Charankar explains that the forte of the college is in extension work, which directly impacts society. For instance, the college teachers and students are involved in working with the society, whether it is teaching embroidery to women or training rag pickers how to operate a crèche, so that they can dream of a better future. The college is also actively involved in women’s health programmes and annually holds a cancer detection camp in conjunction with the industry. The Nutrition Department conducts testing for haemoglobin and anaemia and conducts awareness programmes for better nutrition.

“You know, over the years, we have seen a vast change in the attitude among students and their families, not only towards home science but education in general,” the dynamic educationist informs. “Earlier we used to go to the students’ homes and explain to their parents that their daughter is a good student and they should let her graduate.

Often students and the families saw home science as a field to learn how to run a home after being married, which was the sole purpose. Over the last decade and a half, however, the situation has changed, so much that the students who come in now are extremely focussed, and know why they have chosen home science as their study route. They also know which specialisation they want to opt for after second year, and perhaps are even pointed in their choice of career after graduation. That is a welcome change, one that Dr. Chanrankar is glad to talk about.

The college has had a counsellor for these purposes for over a decade, and she says any one can come talk to the counsellor – teachers, students, non-teaching staff and even parents! “In fact, I tell the students that there is no harm in seeing a counsellor if they are stressed, since all conversations are confidential. I tell them that even I go to the counsellor sometimes when I am stressed!” she laughs.

The most important thing Dr. Charankar tells her students is that their values are very important. “Apart from realising their potential, they need to know how to do it the right way. Earlier, the students had a sort of ‘Lakshman rekha’ that they would not cross for many things. But today, they say let’s go for the experience! That may be adventurous, but often, they do not understand the consequences of the actions,” she says. “Be a good human being, and good citizen, and everything else will follow. Character, honour and commitment are important,” is her parting thought.

Original: http://www.freepressjournal.in/education/there-is-so-much-exposure-that-students-are-attracted-towards-everything-says-dr-shilpa-charankar-principal-dr-bmn-college/1010007
By: Shraddha Kamdar
Posted: January 30, 2017, 9:11 am