In conversation with Brainfeed, director of Sunderji’s Global Academia, Masarrat Tavawalla shares about the journey and educational practices of an outstanding institution. An insight into Sunderji’s Global Academia An insight into Sunderji’s Global Academia An insight into Sunderji’s Global Academia
Sunderji’s Global Academia runs a Group of Institutes namely:
Sunderji Nursery School:
Sunderji Nursery School was established in 1996 by our 3 Founder Members Jena Sunderji, Malek Sunderji & Zarina Sunderji who were previously associated with the Aga Khan Education Board along with our Director Masarrat Tavawalla. After the Aga Khan Foundation closed down their school, the 4 Founder Members decided to do something for the betterment of the lives of children. This is how the Nursery School came into being with just 11 children in 1996 which over the years the strength grew to 140 children. An insight into Sunderji’s Global Academia
Sunderji Teachers’ Training Institute:
Our TT course came into existence in the year 2001. The institute was established to overcome the lack of qualified & skilled teachers. The institute received recognition from the National Council Of Teachers Education after umpteen rounds to NCTE, Bhopal. The course is a one year certified full fledged course for pre primary & primary teachers. Sunderji’s was the first organisation to launch a certified course in pre primary & primary education.
Sunderji Early Intervention Centre For Children With Special Needs
We started getting children with special needs at our Kindergarten. Since this area was new for us, we embarked on another journey to equip ourselves to learn & understand more of how to handle children with special needs. It took us 2 years to equip ourselves with the required knowledge by attending a whole lot of seminars, conferences, workshop in Pune & outstation as well. In 2005, we started our Early Intervention Centre & from the first month itself there was a huge demand for it. Lot of children from different schools started coming to our Early Intervention Centre.
Sunderji Institute Of Special School
In the year 2007, we had 2 classes for children with special needs. As these children kept pouring in for admissions, we realised that 2 classes would not be enough. The Special School operates from a premises which has 3 floors spread over 6000 sq ft. Within no time, the school has grown & expanded & today our special school has classes from K 1 to Grade 12.
At Sunderji’s every child attains the right to participation & sustained development. We value every student as a unique individual where the mind, body & spirit all need nurturing within a loving & caring environment.
Focusing on the critical needs of children
- Unwavering & altruistic objectives
- Valuing our culture & heritage
- Operating with accountability & transparency
We offer a gamut of courses:
- Certificate course in Teachers Education- a one year certified course in pre primary & primary education recognised by National Council of Teachers Education.
- Course for Special Education: Certified one year course in collaboration with Dr. Anjali Morris Education & Health Foundation & Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth.
- We also offer short term training courses under various headings, whether it is for the kindergarten, primary or secondary levels.
We use technology to develop systems for all our institutes, our 5 verticals under the parent body, Sunderji’s Global Academia. Mainly we use lot of softwares to generate a smooth functioning in terms of administrative purposes.
Technology uses are more at higher classes for our special school. We use lot of applications which make life easier for our children. For our dyslexic children, who find it difficult to read, we use daisy reader, spell check etc. We are in collaboration with Benetech, whose main project is Bookshare an online library for people with print disability. We use tablets donated by Benetech where entire textbooks can be downloaded & instead of the child reading it, the content is converted from text to speech. We use technology when we know a child is facing difficulty in writing exams then the child can be supported with a technology app. Technology is used though with caution.
The day to day challenges of running 5 verticals is always there. Some of the challenges include: first is in terms of space which is the biggest challenge in metropolitan cities & for us to juggle so many things with space is the biggest challenge. 2nd challenge is govt rules & regulations regarding setting up of a special school, its not so easy to get a connection for special school. The 3rd challenge is there are so many reserved school plots for special children but a common person who wants to do good work will find it hard to get a school plot. We have been working extremely hard to expand our special school by including therapies etc but it is difficult to do so without space. Getting the right Human Resource is another challenge we face.
The other challenge which we have faced is how do we integrate the socio economically children in our school. RTE does exist, but that’s not enough. There are still so many children out of school & specially when we are looking from the disability perspective, there are 12 million children in our country who are disabled & only 1% of these children have access to school. The question is how do we get more & more children to school who not only have various learning challenges but because of their learning challenges they have numerous behavioural challenges. Today, we have a staggering figure of autism, 1: 155 births, how are we going to tackle these issues is the biggest challenge we face today.
Associations with external National or international bodies
Our school is associated with a number of organizations. We are members of:
- Early childhood association
- Associated with Dr. Anjali Morris Foundation
- Maharashtra Dyslexia Association.
- World Forum Foundation for Early Childhood Education.
- Associated with Government of Bangladesh as we have done work for Institute For Peadiatric Neurodisorder & Autism (IPNA).
- Associated with the National Body of Autism.
Our kindergarten is well equipped with good ventilated classrooms, the outside garden has a sensory pathway, interactive sand pit, interactive walls for children because our kindergarten is inclusive as we have children with special needs. We provide our children with a good physical programme, a special musical programme, we have dance, movement therapy for our kindergarten children, we have counsellors for our parents, we have constant parent involvement in our kindergarten.
For our special children, we have Dance Movement Therapy, Explorative play areas, Art Expression, Music, an activity based programme & Life Skills programme. We have counsellors for our parents, we have constant parent involvement.
I was awed by the Sensory experience material around. Met the stakeholders here. Attended a language class. Phenomenal attitude of each & every person I met here. Touched by the personal touch given by each. Want to be a part of Sunderji’s!!