Sathish Jayarajan, Principal – Mallya Aditi International School, Bangalore
Mallya Aditi International School in Bangalore was started in 1984. The school offers both the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and International General Certificate of Education (IGCSE). Till the 8th standard all students follow the ICSE curriculam. In the 9th standard they split into two groups – ICSE and IGCSE. Excerpts from a recent conversation with Mr. Sathish Jayarajan, Principal & Higher Education Advisor.
Q. Please tell us a little bit about the history of this school
Mr. Sathish Jayarajan – Ideally I would have preferred to have my whole team to participate in this discussion. But then unfortunately right now we are on holidays so only Joel Kribairaj and I are available to speak with your magazine. Joel is the Administrator and Admissions Officer.
This school was started in 1984 by a group of women. The school was started in a moderate location – actually in one of the trustee’s house. It later moved to another campus on Bellary Road which was again leased to us by one of the trustees. It was only in 1994 we moved to the present campus in Yelahanka New Town.
I joined in January 1988. At that point, the school had about 350 students. We had only upto 10th standard at that time. Couple of years later we started the 11th standard and the 12th standard. At present we have about 600 students from 1st standard to 12th standard.
We are a fully day school. We have got a pretty good ratio of teachers to student 1:6. So we have got close 100 teachers.
Ujwal Trust – which runs this school – was started way back in back 1979. This school was the first institution they started . The same trust also runs another education institution called Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology which is a non-residential institution for providing art and design education.
Is this school connected with UB Mallya business group in Bangalore ?
The only reason we have the word Mallya in our school name is because in 1994 when we moved to this campus, the UB Group provided us financial assistance to raise this building. In return for their assistance, they wanted the name of the school to be changed to Mallya Aditi. Mr. Mallya is not involved in the running of this school. Governance of the school has remained completely independent of any corporate entity or business house.
What education curriculum do you follow ?
We are accredited to Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE). This was our first affiliation in 1989. Later in the mid 1990s we are also got accredited to the school education certification from University of Cambridge. So currently we offer both Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and International General Certificate of Education (IGCSE). Till the 8th standard all students follow the ICSE curriculam. In standard 9, they split into two groups – ICSE and IGCSE.
How popular is the IGCSE (O Level and A Levels) among your students ?
Roughly 50% of the students opt for the IGCSE.
What is the profile of the parents who send their kids to this school ?
Initially when the school started Bangalore was taking off as an IT sector. So we had quite a number of parents from that sector. We also have kids from business families. More recently the parent profile comprises of bureaucrats, civil servants, politicians and parents from various walks of life. I should also add our school fully complies with the Right to Education (RTE) policy of the government and 25% of the seats are reserved under this quota.
What is the annual school fees?
The annual school fees ranges between Rs 3 – 3.5 lacs.
What would you like to highlight as something special about your school?
We get students with diverse abilities. One of the things that we are doing quite good is taking students with different learning abilities and helping them to be successful. Learning support, assessment of student with difficulties, that’s something we do quite well. I think that we’re pioneers in this area.
We got three full-time counsellors. Two of them are Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist, one has got masters. And we got one more person who’s looking at social education generally. As I said we have a very good learning support team who are qualified to look at students with difficulties.
Our estimate is that in any given sample of students about 10% approximately would have some difficulties – language driven difficulties, attention deficit to difficulties etc. All these difficulties will be there. So we’re trying our best to help these children adjust. This is an area we have focussed on almost since we started.
Very often when students have difficulties teachers don’t know what is going on. They presume that the students were lazy that they were not interested, not motivated, and disruptive.
For example one of my colleagues in the counselling department recently she finished her Ph.D where she looked at Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. She found that very often teachers will say the student is very disruptive in classroom but this behaviour happens because they have an attention deficit issue . This is a genuine difficulty.
Today schools every where seem to be only concerned about preparing students for examinations. Is your school doing anything different ?
I think what we are trying to do is to say yes it is important that you get grades, but that cannot become the complete focus of the entire school. I think that’s what sometimes happens in some cases what I call the tail wagging the dog. Everything is determined backward right off to 1st standard by this and that we don’t do, we don’t want to do that.
I mean it’s always a struggle between what we want to do in terms of vision and what we are actually doing. But I think there is a recognition that education is not a production line, it’s not some industrial process. It’s messy. I mean, we get it right sometimes and sometimes we don’t. We mess up. Joel and I had numerous conversation about what we can do better. He told me once that this balancing between the academic and the non-academic, we can do better, we can make a better choice.
What is the profile of your teachers ? Since you offer UK based O and A Levels curriculum are you able to find the right kind of teachers in India ?
We have only two teachers who are not Indians. All else are from India. The new teachers these days are very good in terms of their subject. I think it just sort of giving them some training on how to deliver the course content. We conduct teacher training sessions. We send teachers off on visits. We want our teachers to know what’s happening in education elsewhere.
What is the teaching staff turn over ?
I think 70% of teachers have been here for at least for more than 10 years.
How are teacher appraisals done ?
We have not found the perfect way to do this. We are giving students opportunity to assess teachers. The purpose is not to pull up teachers, the purpose is for teachers to reflect upon their practise and see what they can do. Then the teachers are asked to analyse the assessment and then come and talk to me or talk to any department head and tell us what they have learned from the assessment and what they can do for future. So, that’s one kind of assessment.
Another kind of appraisal we do is try to observe the classes of others and discuss with them. It’s a slightly tricky area because we talk about colleagues assessing other colleagues, there is certain amount of politics, there is certain amount of insecurities that arise there. So, we have to handle this with caution.
What kind of teachers will best fit in with your school ?
Okay I’ll tell you who won’t fit in. If a person says that this is the way I am going to teach and this my method and I am not going to change, I’m not into modifying teaching, then almost certainly the person will not fit in here. If a person is really open minded and willing to take feedback and willing to adapt to changing requirements then I think yes the person will fit in and will be fine here.
How do you manage the school’s relationship with parent community ?
We have only around 600 students – and this roughly means there are about 350 parents connected with the school. Between Joel and myself we know almost every parent possibly. Quite a few of our parents are now former students.
So, we have nice good relationship with parents but school policy is not influenced by the parents. We have parents who are highly supportive. Parents may come forward and say we will build the swimming pool for the school, but it doesn’t mean because they build the swimming pool they should get a greater voice in running the school.
Do parents complain about your fee hikes ?
I think what upsets parents is when schools say they are increasing fees by say 20%. That disturbs them. So we try to handle our fee increases reasonably. This time – for instance – our annual fee increase was just around 4%
What is your own education and career back ground ?
I am a Bangalore person. I went to St. Joseph’s College. I stayed in Canada for a couple of years. My subject is political science, economics, history. This was my first job. I joined this school in 1988 and I’ve been here since. I started as a teacher, then I took on some administrative responsibilities as a coordinator. In 2003, I was asked to become the Principal. All my experience has been being part of this very good school.
As told to Kartik Isvarmurti
Principal & Higher Education Advisor,
Mallya Aditi International School,
Post Box No. 6427,
Yelahanka New Town,
Bangalore 560 106