BIS #6378 MumbaiSalesians' Principals GoogleMeet

by Christina Mascarenhas with Fr Bernard Fernandes for BISMumbai

MumbaiSalesians' Principals had a 02 and 1/2 hour GoogleMeet session on 08 July 2021 from 9.00 am-11.30 am, moderated by the School Sector Coordinator Father Bernard Fernandes. Present at the meet were MumbaiSalesians' Provincial Father Savio Silveira and ViceProvincial Father Ashley Miranda. The resource persons for the meet were Father Ajoy Fernandes and Conrad Saldanha.

Father Silveira congratulated the principals for successfully launching the new academic year, especially the rural schools up-to-the-task amid difficulties, lack of adequate devices and internet connectivity. The crux of his address centred around the Province Golden Jubilee celebrations, due on 31 January 2022, the foundation day of the Salesian Province of St. Francis Xavier-Bombay. Hestated that the main celebration would however be on 22 October 2022 in the presence of the Rector Major, and the concluding celebration on 03 December 2022.

Father Silveira said, "the fundamental aspect of any jubilee was Memory- looking back with gratitude, and Prophecy- looking forward to the next 50 years. These 02 aspects will be the highlight of the jubilee celebrations."

Father Miranda said, "the principals are the public face of the Salesian mission and I recommend you to focus on the last and the least in our institutions. May you principals, create family ambient in the institution, taking care of the physical, spiritual and emotional health of its member, and thereby prepare youngsters for life, through moral and value education."

Two main highlights of the day’s agenda were the Presentation of the National Education Policy [NEP] 2020 and the mental and emotional well-being of staff and students of our schools.

Eminent mentor, educationist, consultant, and writer-trainer Conrad Saldanha, presented the NEP. In his own inimitable style, Saldanha highlighted the significant aspects of the document using the acronym GUARD and added the implications for minority schools to each.

G- Governance

U- Learning for all(underprivileged) Full inclusion with equity

A-Standard setting and accreditation

R- Language- medium of instruction.

D- Teachers (Educators) -Eligibility, recruitment, etc.

Saldanha reiterated the fact several times that there was a total lack of mention of minority institutions and hence an ambiguity in its implications. Following his presentation, there was time for intervention-discussions by the Principals.

Director of Don Bosco Prafulta Youth Counsellign Services-Father Fernandes, touched on the emotional challenges encountered in online teaching. He outlined the challenges faced by parents, educators and students. These covered areas of inadequate devices, insufficient data packs, small living spaces, loss of jobs, loss of family members, small children having to be assisted by parents in the online learning process which could be difficult at times and last but not the least, catering to children with special needs like a learning disability. Some of the fall outs of online education were eye fatigue, isolation from peers and relatives. Many other addictions too were an outcome of the irregular online habits. Outling the interventions for students, teachers and parents, Father Fernandes said, "Psychological distress leads to anxiety and depression. Parents and teachers need to be guided to identify children who are anxious or depressed and refer them for assistance."

Interspersed between these two main points of the agenda were the presentations of good practices in schools. Father Flovi D’souza-Principal Don Bosco Borivali, presented a video of the various programmes conducted from the Jr.Kg onwards (up to the Higher Secondary) covering all events on the handbook as well as special events conducted in the sections of the school. Sangita Bhattacharya-Principal St. Joseph’s Wadala, highlighted a programme -KYC Know Your Child- followed in their school where every class teacher talks individually to each child to get to know their background better. She spoke about the SETSS programme in the primary and the Bridge programme linking it to the secondary.

Father Fernandes then made another presentation on Vocation Animation- a proposed way forward in our Province. Vocation Animation, he said, helps a person to discover his/her personal resources, discern God’s call and formulate their plan in life and live their life as a vocation within a community. He outlined the 06 stages in school in this process of discernment.

Stage 1 – Self-discovery – Std 7

Stage 2 – Educational & Career Exploration – Std 8

Stage 3 – Educational Planning – Std 9

Stage 4 – Implementing Educational Plans – Std 10

Stage 5 – Career Exploration – Std 11

Stage 6 – Career Planning – Std 12

He proposed an option for schools to opt for a Maximum or Minimum programme through Career Marg sessions offered by Prafulta at Matunga.

The update of the Provincial Directory 2013 was the final point for discussion , after which pertinent school matters were discussed and the meet came to a close.