‘I am their parent – father and mother – the minute they enter the campus’ – Dr. Ancy Jose, Principal, Nagindas Khandwala College

Dr. Ancy Jose, Principal – Nagindas Khandwala College, Malad, fondly talks about all her students, in an interview with Shraddha Kamdar

“What I mean is that I am concerned about their welfare, and I am responsible for all of them when they are on the campus. And that is why I am strict in many ways,” she says, when talking about her students and their development in my interview. A thorough professional, she excuses herself out of the previous meeting that went way over the time allotted to talk to me. She didn’t want to keep me waiting. I offer to go back after she is done, so that we can talk freely. And it’s settled. There are so many things that the students of Nagindas Khandwala College, Malad, can learn from their principal of 23 years – Dr. Ancy Jose.

Dr. Jose joined the college 33 years ago as a lecturer, when she moved to Mumbai from Kerela after her marriage. “I have seen my institution grow with me, as I have grown with it,” she says, her passion for the college as well as the field reflecting in every word. “Teaching is my passion, not my job. The minute a teacher thinks of teaching as a job, something changes. In fact, now that I do not take any lectures, I miss the students in my classroom, even though they are welcome to walk into my office for anything they want at any time they want. I am here every day until 5.30 pm.”

Since the college is on its way to attaining autonomy, Dr. Jose is looking forward to making a few changes after. Even with that she is clear that transparency on her part on anything related to administration has been an important key to her success, and will continue to be so. She talks of how parents are often reluctant to shell out an additional amount for an event or a festival that students want to conduct within the college, the budget of which cannot be taken out of the fee structure. The amount in nominal, yet they are reluctant. “I often tell them in the meetings that these events add a lot of character and dimension to the children’s personality. I also keep the accounts clear and open for anyone to check. I say that I could have easily charged the amount as a facility fee in the fee payment, but I don’t. I call you and tell you clearly what it is

you are paying for and then ask them to reconsider, otherwise their children will miss out,” she explains.

With autonomy, Dr. Jose plans to offer more language components to students to enhance their spoken English skills and improve their employability. “Language ability is not everyone’s cup of tea, so a little help would be good for them,” she says.

From administrative to academic, Dr. Jose has handled a lot over these years, and in her experience, she says that students are so stuck with the idea of gaining the degree and marks, especially in the commerce stream that they are not interested in doing anything beyond the syllabus, even if the faculty offers. This, she thinks needs to change. “We arrange so many guest lectures, but many students think of it as time pass and fail to attend. Unfortunately, they realise the importance of all of it by the time they have graduated and are working in the industry, but then it is too late,” she says.

This also brings us to the discussion on coaching classes, and Dr. Jose feels that students are pressured by the environment and often parental and peer pressures. “They feel that they have to go for classes from FYJC itself. You see, coaching classes offer them instant food, which they get ready made. We in the college teach for knowledge and practice, not just for the exams. Students are often short-sighted and want only that much which would suffice for the exam, and cannot differentiate between the two. Unfortunately, in some cases, due to this spoon feeding, I feel students have forgotten the ability to think, work and get good marks,” she elaborates, stating that it is not a new problem, it stems from a similar situation in school days – that students and parents opt for private tuitions in school also.

The situation has arisen partly because of competition and the need to score every extra mark, Dr. Jose says. “The marks mentality is difficult to let go. Parents also need to understand that every child is different and they should not compare, but that is the first thing they do. I also feel, however, that even if marks are important, they should be viewed hand-in-hand with the growth factor as well. I would say to the students that they should maintain their level, not only study for the board exams. That would show that they are unstable,” she explains.

From academic performance to personality, Dr. Jose says students should develop the ability to be good human beings. “You see, the kids are all good, they just need proper guidance. There are all kinds of experiences and pressures in the world, and they may get lost. Their attitude can sometimes border on arrogance which could pose a slight problem, but once they are gently told or explained, they will learn. Behaviour patterns will also change accordingly,” she says, adding that they also learn from their peers.

Talking of the events and fests, Dr. Jose talks about the common fest of the college, which is extremely popular, and she also talks of the departmental fests, where each section has its own fest and where every student has to participate in some manner. “They develop many skills by being active and creative. They also develop managerial skills. Now they can be innovative with technology as well, so I believe in offering them these opportunities and space,” she says in the manner of a true mentor.

As a teacher-mentor and almost in true parent style, Dr. Jose offers her parting advice to our student readers: “Whatever you do in life, do it in a proper way, keeping your values intact. Materialism may come and go, but the name you earn in life with hard work and a truthful approach will always stay. There are no short cuts.”

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