Inside the sphere of education, one essential element that uplifts students’ socio-economic development is the phenomenon of learning. Knowing such a learning wheel, it becomes highly essential that the most fundamental stakeholder of education, i.e., teachers, are acknowledged.
But the triggering question is, “If teachers are busy, being proactively involved around students, who ensure to facilitate a healthy ecosystem that favours students and teachers, both at the same time?” The answer can be found in the following quote:
“Love of Learning, Love of Learners, and the Love of bringing the first two loves together.”
– Scott Hayden
Enabling a healthy confluence of teachers, students, and learning are the heads of the institutions. Being responsible for the administrative and management duties of the School/College, principals are found to enrich the relationship between teachers and students. Understanding such important dynamics of the education ecosystem, Abdul Ghani Kanesan conducted a study in 2005 and found that the principal’s transformative leadership for the betterment of the schools and colleges has brought changes in the attitude of the teachers and the other members of the schools and colleges.
One such educational leader is Thomas MJ. He is one of the inspiring principals of ST PAULS COLLEGE, where he introduced many creative ideas for enhancing the Indian education system.
Being a prominent leader, imparting knowledge to the socio-economic backward students inspires and motivates Thomas MJ to invest more in the education sector. His view is to prepare responsible citizens who build a human and humane society.
In pursuit of India’s Most Passionate Education Influencers, 2023, we interviewed Thomas MJ to learn more about his educational leadership.
Let’s get detailed information about such an inspiring principal of the year through the following interview excerpts:
Walk us through your journey into the education sector and enlighten us about your career.
As a member of the Society of St Paul, guiding this institution was a responsibility entrusted to me. Realizing the immense possibility of imparting knowledge to the locality students that mostly came from a socio-economically backward sector was an inspiration and motivation to invest more into the education sector to prepare responsible citizens who will engage in the building of a human and humane society. To the locals at the initial stages, today, the institution provides quality education to students across the country and beyond.
What inspired you to step into the education industry? Who were your role models growing up?
ST PAULS COLLEGE, managed by The Society of St Pauls, is an organization with a rich legacy of publishing across the globe; right from its inception, the society aims to spread good literature.
While achieving this, we need good writers, broadcast professionals, and communication experts; this inspired us to start an institution with an exclusive focus on Journalism and Mass Communication.
As time went by, we also realized the need for sound business and commerce practices; this introduced commerce and management courses alongside literature and communication education.
Tell us about your esteemed institute and its mission, vision, and core values.
ST PAULS COLLEGE, Bengaluru, is one of the educational undertakings of the Society of St Paul, an international religious institute founded by Blessed James Alberione on 20 August 1914, and is currently present in 39 countries across the globe. It is affiliated with Bangalore University and recognized by the Government of Karnataka.
The campus is spread across thirteen acres of land and nestled amongst lush green trees and colourful flower plants. It provides a conducive atmosphere for the holistic growth of the students. ST PAULS COLLEGE has the latest facilities and modern infrastructure, including a state-of-the-art Television Studio, Professional Sound Recording Studio, etc.
Taking inspiration from Blessed James Alberione, the college founder, ST PAULS COLLEGE, Bengaluru, aims to nurture students, with a particular focus on media education, to become mature and responsible citizens by ensuring a conducive environment to pursue academic excellence and holistic growth.
ST PAULS COLLEGE, Bengaluru endeavours to identify the potentials and talents in students and to draw out the best in them by providing ample opportunities and facilitating genuine opinion formation in order to make them visionaries and professionals and committed citizens of tomorrow.
Creating Professionals for a Better Tomorrow.
- Academic Excellence
- Social Consciousness
- Ecological Awareness
- Attitude Formation
- Equality for All
- Respect for Self and Others
- Spiritual Conviction
- Value-driven Life
What significant steps have you taken to enhance the student learning experience in your college?
We have introduced several best practices, such as compulsory industry exposure through internships; the college has also established one of the finest recording studios with state-of-the-art equipment supported by experienced technicians and staff.
Apart from this, we also introduced various innovative practices in teaching, scholarships for all students under multiple categories, compulsory library hours and support for research and paper presentations.
In terms of course objectives and learning outcomes, what does your institute prioritize?
Opinion formation is the whole idea of any teaching, in our opinion, as sound opinions lead to participation and professionalism, which is a turnkey to any nation’s growth. We prioritize learning outcomes as empty-rite learning without any hands-on experience that may not be of much value to the students of the present age.
Express your views on online learning and the modern ways of teaching.
While expanding the horizons of learning, we took it as an excellent opportunity. Online education and technology-assisted teaching have helped many students pick up concepts better as the new methodology appeals to their diverse learning inclinations.
From the beginning, we assess the learning patterns in our students during their journey at ST PAULS with various pre-course assessments, which help us design course plans accordingly and the advent of online classes, thanks to the pandemic, has helped us expand our horizons of learning and teaching practices.
What are the significant challenges that the education sector in India faces today? What initiatives/programs have you launched to overcome it?
Today, much emphasis is laid on passing one exam with a high percentage of marks, while a very narrow focus is on holistic learning. We have a sound advanced and slow learners program, bridge courses and innovative internal assessment practices that allow us to encourage students to learn concepts rather than focus on high marks alone.
What are the effective changes you have incorporated in the school curriculum for the overall development of the students?
We have regular leadership and skill development programs, value education sessions, and classroom practices such as peer teaching and group learning which enhance the overall personality of the students.
We have also introduced compulsory internships for final-year students, industrial visits for almost all subjects, mock tests, and interviews to prepare students for the curriculum and the outside world.
Kindly mention any of your awards, accolades, and accreditations.
- Chanakya Award for the Best Communication School of the Year 2021 by the Public Relations Council of India (PRCI).
- Collateral Award for the Best Educational Campaign of the Year 2021 by the Public Relations Council of India (PRCI).
- Most Emerging Higher Education Institute of the Year 2021 by Asian Education Awards.
- Best College of the Year 2021 by Entrepreneur Education Innovation India, sponsored by the Ministry of Information Technology, Govt. of India.
- Outstanding Academic Institutions Award 2022 by Times Ascent Presented during Asia Pacific HRM Congress.
- Best Infrastructure amongst Private Colleges for UG & PG Courses 2022, Bengaluru by Business Mint, India.
What advice would you give to those who want to step into the field of education?
We would like them to begin with the awareness that education is a solemn and highly respected profession; one needs to have a certain level of accountability and responsibility in order to be a good educationist.
We want future educationists to remember to put the greatest good for the most significant number of people before self and vested interest. We would also suggest they pay much attention to application-based learning and research-oriented education approaches.
Please share what lies ahead for you and your institution in the near future.
A strong foundation has been laid by all the stakeholders of the institution, and now the responsibility lies in maintaining the momentum and bringing this institution to greater heights, making it an institution of excellence, ensuring professionalism, and shaping a human society based on the values of love, justice, freedom, secularism, and equality.
How is technology helping schools to provide better education facilities?
We aim to reach out to the neediest students in the vicinity of the college and inculcate a culture of acceptance. We envision a future where a delicate balance is struck between online tools via the use of a robust learning management system and encouraging classroom sessions that include a multimedia approach to concept-based learning.
Besides the latest facilities and modern infrastructure comprising a state-of-the-art Television Studio, Professional Sound Recording Studio, Library, Computer Lab, etc., the college is establishing a fully equipped language lab and introducing industry-oriented MOOCS to acquire course credits.
The introduction of incubation centres, minor research projects, and habitual hybrid conferences and events to make the most of the current technology wave are also part of our future plans.