Education is essential for not only enabling students to pass the examinations successfully and get a good job, but it is also about transforming individuals into future leaders and seasoned professionals. Every student wants quality education and to become a dedicated professional.
Throughout their journey in attaining success in their career and academics, students receive the guidance of eminent educational leaders such as Dr Archana Acharya, the Founder of Vaaradhi Seva Samstha. She is a highly motivated and committed leader who is focused on the supreme goal to impart quality education.
We, at The Knowledge Review, got an opportunity to converse with Dr Archana when she shared her journey through the education sector, various challenges she faced throughout her career, her noteworthy accomplishments, and her future plans. Following are the highlights of the interview:
Please tell us about your journey through the education sector right from the beginning.
Born and brought up in the city of pearls, I was fondly parented by Sri. Daruri Srinivasa Chary and Smt. M Rama Devi in an unbiased and unperturbed environment. Fostered in a family of academicians, I was focused to obtain Post-graduations in Business Management, Travel & Tourism, Social Work, and Psychology. My enthusiasm led me to Cambridge University and a subsequent doctorate. I firmly believe that the hardiness of every profession emerges out of the knowledge and expertise that teachers ingrain in future citizens. Consequently, in spite of being a meritorious student, I did not think twice before choosing teaching as my profession. My first teaching assignment began at ICFAI as an HR faculty. Marriage and motherhood made my journey jerky. I took up a new challenging task as HOD at John Bauer College amidst the chaos. I soon went up the ladder and became the Principal of the same institute in a couple of years. Vaaradhi came into existence in due course. It has been an exciting journey during these twenty years.
What inspired you to step into the field of education? Who were your role models?
Since childhood, education has been my passion, so I took teaching as my profession. At this point, I have to mention Dr. R Venkata Ramanan. He was my principal at school. His words, “If a nation wants to achieve the highest student output, then its intelligentsia should get into teaching,” always kept me inspired to move towards my dream and life’s goal at all times. Also, I have a set of teachers – SAPTA RISHI – the seven individuals, both academic and non-academic, who influenced me, inspired me, and set a benchmark in initiating a shift in my outlook towards students and education. These made me wholeheartedly believe and practice that a teacher should focus on the holistic development of a student.
Tell us about your esteemed organization, its mission, vision, and core values.
Vaaradhi Seva Samstha was established with its prime focus on providing educational facilities to the needy with a vision to help the deprived and the destitute in procuring the necessary education, which otherwise is a mirage to them. It emphasises succouring the students in realizing their full potential and also boosting their morale through ethical and moral education. It aims to reach the maximum number of students through seminars and workshops conducted at their respective educational institutions. Vaaradhi is non-discriminatory and non-political in nature. It does not expect any personal benefit and works on the true spirit of volunteers and philanthropists.
What are the priorities of your organization in terms of course objectives and learning outcomes?
Vaaradhi is my brainchild; it aids in education, medical and legal necessities of the poor and the destitute. It also aims to impart knowledge and awareness with regards to vital non-academic issues like ethical and value-based education, time management, stress management, fear of failure, etc. to the student fraternity. Vaaradhi believes in bringing about sustainable changes in students’ lives by educating them in non-conventional methods and non-academic concepts. It aims at improving the quality of conception in students through unique intervention modules and joyful learning techniques. It also emphasises socially meaningful curriculum in educational institutions.
Kindly share your views regarding interactive, online educational content in redefining the ways we learn.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the normal mode of learning worldwide. Education as a whole shifted online. Smooth transition to the virtual world is quite a challenging task for both students and teachers. Making a continuous effort to provide customized teaching and learning material suitable for online education is another challenge in facilitating. It is my ardent belief that the quality of teaching and learning online by far are the most important influences on the students’ cognitive, affective, social, and behavioural outcomes. Along with the shift to highly rigorous achievement standards, improved student assessments, precise focus on data to implement instructions, and personalization of learning through the latest technology, I feel teaching is a considerable responsibility. One needs to be ever-ready and sufficiently equipped to take on these hybrid roles of techno teaching to face the challenges of the new era.
What are the biggest challenges and struggles faced by educators in general?
I believe educators are nation builders. Right from my childhood, I have always wanted to teach. I trust and believe that educating is not just a profession but a process that needs large amounts of commitment, patience, and adaptability. Firstly, an educator needs to balance diverse student needs. A single topic to be understood by a diverse group with varied learning speeds is quite a challenge. Secondly, they need to adapt to changing market trends and synchronize teaching content accordingly. Thirdly, it is quite a tedious task to inspire students to be disciplined, self-motivated, and productive while meeting the expectation of parents and the management.
Education is considered a tool of empowerment. What efforts do you and your organization put in to make sure that education is provided to those who need it?
Education is the best tool to empower an individual. As the saying goes, “Don’t give them fish, teach them fishing”, if you provide individuals with their necessities, it would be temporary, but if we educate individuals, they become self-dependent and also improve their perspective towards life. This is exactly what Vaaradhi does. It assists individuals who are not financially equipped to obtain an education. We, at Vaaradhi, emphasize more on higher education as it helps individuals in positioning themselves at a respectable place in society. Across various educational institutions, we identify meritorious individuals who are financially under-equipped and assist them in continuing their education further, be it under-graduation, post-graduation, or even competitive examinations at various levels.
Kindly illuminate us regarding your awards, accolades, and accreditations.
I was awarded “The Best Faculty HR – 2006, at ICFAI”; “The Teaching & Research Excellence Award – 2020, by EMG-SSM Trust”; and “Outstanding Contribution To Student Development – 2021, by Kiteskraft International”. I have also been awarded the “Women’s Leadership Award – 2021 by Hybiz TV. An India Prime Icon Award and being featured in the list of Top 100 Promising Teachers of India for 2021 add to my laurels. “Distinguished Academician Award – 2021 by Women Icon and World Women Council”, “Distinguished Hospitality Administrator And Trainer Award – 2022 by Crazy Tales” and “Women Of Substance Award 2022 by HypEdge Media”, are also few gems in my crown.
What advice can you give to those who want to step into the field of education?
An educator or a guru has always been held in high reverence in Indian Culture. Gurus are unequivocally a very vital part of our society. Their prime purpose is to inspire children and drive them towards success in life. Teachers in the current era carry an incredible responsibility. They need to understand that unlike other professions, teaching is not just a mode to make money but a method of making lives. Teaching was never easy, and it will never be so. One should never take teaching as a mere profession, but one should put in his heart, commitment, and passion to be a dedicated teacher. As a guru, one has to be an inspirer and motivator; one needs to be conscious that he handles young minds which will be molded as per our actions. Thus, he should feel that he is entitled with an apex responsibility of shaping futures.
Please share your future plans.
In a roller-coaster ride of 20 years, I faced many challenges in living my dream of being an able academician, shaping futures, and making lives. My morale shattered so badly at times that I had to pull myself together with an arduous effort from calling quits. But by God’s grace, every time I was depressed, I bounced back like a phoenix from ashes, more motivated and more focused. With the continuing support of my family, I, through Vaaradhi, aim to continue my journey and explore new avenues and opportunities to render services to the deprived and the destitute in procuring necessary education at various levels. In the coming years, I would dedicate my time and resources to their maximum extent in achieving the goals of Vaaradhi, which is also my life’s goal.