Residential Schools: B.K. Birla Centre for Education

In a conversation with BW Education, Dr S.K. Sanyal, Principal, B.K. Birla Centre for Education talks about managing a residential school and more.

Looking for the Right Residential School- What must a parent look for in a Residential School? How should a parent choose a school for their child? What are the marketing mechanisms parents must see beyond?

Having many options in hand selecting a good residential school for their ward is one of the most challenging tasks for the parents now days. While choosing a school, not only the child’s safety but also the learning environment should be at the top of their list. Since it is a home away from home a child should enjoy his stay. This is the place where his innocence, curiosity, morality, energy and happiness are not killed. Interaction with the teachers and the students will give more details about the school.

 Demystifying myths of Residential Schools- Sexual Abuse, loneliness, safety, health measures, psychological tortures, distancing from parents are some of the innumerable apprehensions of a parent when s/he thinks about admitting her child to a residential school.

Do these myths still hold strong? What are the rights of a parent or student in case such challenges come forth? What are some of the programs and technologies that the schools must initiate to engage parents more actively?

At the beginning it is a really grave concern of many parents. Child’s growth during this period should be well monitored or else things can go wrong. Parents come above the schools doctrine when it comes to their ward. Parents become the additional valuable source for the institution. Involvement of the stakeholders motivates and fills the gap between the school and the student. Along with parents, students’ overall development could be easily monitored and guided. Parent Teacher Associations and periodic Parent Teacher interactions could help in alleviating the apprehensions of parents. Parents, if they feel that their wards are being subject to such behavior can complain to the school management and if they are still not satisfied, council can be approached from the State regulatory council. Schools have a very strict policy to deal with in these matters. Students are expelled if they are found indulging in these matters. Teachers too are monitored very closely. There is nothing to be feared about, there is a well-oiled machine to monitor the same.

 Pedagogically, what have been the major challenges to run a residential school?

Senior faculty finds it very difficult to adapt to new technologies and to bridge the gap with the young generation. Through workshops and professional development programs, teachers are updated with the modern day challenges and the solutions. School exchange programs and teacher training programs especially on stress management, plays an important role.

 Do you have difficulties in selecting right residential faculties for your school?

Having established a name in the field of education, we have never felt the dearth of quality faculty. Nevertheless, yes there are at times issues in getting quality math and science faculties, as because they have a strong private coaching market. The only option is to get the right staff by being good paymasters and also make sure that the school has the confidence of parents behind you.

Discipline, safety and psychological balance are problems that every residential school grapples with. Your comments on that.

Understanding the students becomes one of the greatest challenges the school faces. Though discipline and the safety could be addressed easily, the psychological balance becomes critical unless and until the student opens up. Those challenges play a vital role in making the students worthy children of a worthy nation who are future ready personalities. The house masters - effectively and efficiently taking up the role of surrogate parents - play a vital role in balancing the psychological problems. It is addressed by them then and there. School Psychologist also plays an important role, but yes we also at times fail to understand the child. This is an ongoing process, but a close bond with the child in most of the issues helps in the child changing. We have to be a part of them to understand them.

What are the effects of the new bills and policies on residential schools- regulation of fees, franchise, etc?

There is always a thirst for betterment. Best teachers and faculty have to be delivered and more so, in a boarding school good quality teachers are required, so that the students do not harp on outside tutors. Now that the government is trying to draw a line as far as the fees are concerned, that stops the progress for betterment to a certain extent. Reasons: New equipment has to be purchased, teachers look forward to an annual increment and all this requires infrastructure development.

All these now start taking a back bench and to balance the economy becomes a tough job. Franchise business is good, but then the quality also has to be maintained zbecause if it falters then the principle institute is always blamed. An institute that can do a good balancing job can only succeed. We also state that quality does not come only with just expenditure but a long term planning where expenditure is spanned across a period.

How do you engage and increase confidence of parents who are stationed far away from their children?

It is the school’s duty to keep parents informed about their wards from time to time. We engage parents through phone calls, e-mails, school website and parents meet. Arranging workshops for the parents also enhances the relationship between two. We have a suggestion Email ID where parents put in their views and we take the parents into confidence to resolve many issues. We have also engage in a skype conversation between parents and school & students.

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