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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Sheba Thapar: ‘There Are No Shortcuts To Life’

Indian educationist, Sheba Thapar, Headmistress of Saint Xavier High School - Gurgaon, in Discussion with Indian-Spanish entrepreneur Roshan Bhondekar

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Divya Dhadd
Divya Dhadd

INDIA: In the latest episode of the 360-degrees live show hosted by Transcontinental Times, Headmistress of Saint Xavier High School – Gurgaon, Sheba Thapar joins the conversation with Transcontinental Times’ CEO Roshan Bhondekar.

An educationist for 25 years now, Thapar shares her thoughts on the evolving education system, how teachers are adapting to it, and the challenges India is facing in the current times with regard to education getting digital.


The becoming of a teacher

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“I belong to a family of educationists, my mother is a teacher, she had been in the principal’s position as well. I was fascinated by her ever since I was a kid; the saree she’d wear to school or the papers she got home for correction.  My mother was a major motivating factor in my decision to become a teacher. Initially, I wanted to be an air hostess, then I switched to the corporate line. But when I had to think about having my own family, things changed, for good, and the teaching profession happened. It was a privilege to step into the profession by teaching nursery kids in the school I went to, although I was drawing only a little salary in the beginning, the job gave me sheer joy. Unlike the corporate where there were deadlines and pressure, here I sought laughter and joy. Later I went on to teach maths and science to the higher secondary.”

“Teaching in different schools has taught me a lot; adapting to different ethics or the dress code, the business model of education sector or learning to teach using technology and computers because I was only privy to the chalk and board.”

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“So apart from my mother being my motivation, all my experiences throughout this journey grew upon me and helped me unlearn what I learned in books.”

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What are the challenges you face as an educationist and how do you deal with them?

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“Firstly, I feel that you need to be happy from within, because unless you are happy you cannot run an organisation with everybody feeling satisfied. Secondly, you need to be healthy. To be in the industry, you need to be physically active, so you need to eat right and take care of yourself. So I have always followed these two things. If you are happy, you spread happiness and it reciprocates, children see us and learn so they also learn to spread happiness. To run an organisation, you also need to connect, with teachers, students, parents or the management. It is also important to say no, if something may hamper your operations or is not for the betterment, have the guts to say no.”

What is the future of the education system in India?

“In India, we are very fortunate to come up with the New Education Policy (NEP). The culture of racing for marks is in transition now. The focus will now be on developing the curiosity of the child, teamwork, logical thinking, problem-solving and ethics, during the formative years when we talk about the NEP. The coming years will see experiential learning and application in day-to-day life rather than rote learning, so the gap between academics and professional setup has been bridged now. The assessment of students will now be based on digital literacy which was not there in the past, there will be an integration of subjects like sports and arts. We are in the midst of that transformation in India. The past few months have seen a decline with respect to education with online classes, but with schools opening up now, things will get better.”

How can we bring students from the low-income sector to avail facilities of top tier schools?

“Many schools have a special department where they avail facilities to incorporate the low-middle class sector, especially the government schools, they are doing wonders; mid-day meals, free textbooks. So Indian government is taking efforts in the upbuilding of these sectors, with the NEP too, the low-income group children will benefit.”

Message to students

“There are no shortcuts to life. To pursue anything, you have to start from scratch and work hard. With online classes, the concentration of students has gone for a toss, so they will have to work hard. So prepare and work hard for whatever it is you want to seek in life.”


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