In an interview with EducationWorld, Jeroninio Almeida, management & OD consultant, inspirational orator-author storyteller, internationally-certified leadership-life coach and UN advisor had this to say about the path-breaking REX Karmaveer Education Change Champions (ECC) Fellowship & Awards.
What is the REX Karmaveer ECC awards all about?
April 15, 2019 was a Red-Letter day for the education sector and schools. The REX Karmaveer Education Change Champions Fellowship & Awards, was launched that day. The awards are bestowed on schools that promote holistic character-rooted education to make children better human beings, better citizens, and better leaders.
Powered by REX Karmaveer Education Change Champions Fellowship & Awards, instituted by International-ConfederationOf-NGOs-(iCONGO) in partnership with UN , these awards are truly by, of and for educationalists, and a tribute to the peoplepresident and life teacher Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam who had offered to be the ambassador for the awards and the International-VolunteeringOlympiad (now renamed International Volunteering Life Skilling Fellowship after our the education-change-champions shared insights about the nomenclature when we launched this in the forum).
Eminent educationalists are a part of the ECC-Learning-Circle, under whose guidance these awards were finalised. Co-chaired by honourable Aditi Mishra (Principal, DPS Gurugram) and globally renowned education reformer Mark Parkinson, other ECC Learning Circle members included education leaders/ principals such as Eitu Vij Chopra, Dipinder Kaur, Faiqa Saulat Khan, Madhu Bhatnagar, Maya Norula, Seema Sablok, Simmi Sukul, Anil Puri, Nishant Sharma and Rakshit Tandon. They worked for over a year, to create meticulous guiding principles for creating a credible awards initiative, by researching and nominating worthy Education Change Champion schools from across India. The aim was to find 100 such schools and after researching many, 75 were shortlisted and 68 schools were awarded. Awards were strictly not given in absentia.
How did the day pan out? Any personal takeaways?
The day-long forum had several panel discussions with eminent educators and parents, who discussed “The need for character-building as a pillar-of-education”, “why volunteering/service is essential for students?” and “why schools should promote individual-social-responsibility to drive change for the better?”
The forum also had inspiring talks by Manish Rai, a grassroots environmental activist who teaches children to preserve the environment, Dev and Chandni who run the Voice Of Slum schools and a soul-stirring presentation by Aditi Mishra about the humbling experience of providing quality education to under-served/ un-served children through Shiksha Kendra at DPS, Gurugram, Sector-45.
My personal takeaway was from Mark Parkinson’s keynote. He began by asking the over 250 eminent educators in the audience, “are schools truly ready for change and for the future?” He then spoke about skills that Industry wants, such as complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, team-coordination, emotional intelligence, judgment and decision-making, service-orientation, negotiation, and cognitive flexibility
That did set the tone for the day, didn’t it? What were the areas that you were keen to present to the audience?
I began with a slide that highlighted skills needs-gaps by Edexel UK Research, which shows that future-skills desired by business leaders and parents are goal-setting, time management, planning-preparation, teamwork, conflict-management, analytics, fun, desire-to learn, good health/hygiene and also life skills such as initiative, responsibility, self-direction, personal productivity, problem-solving, effective communication (listening) , collaboration, cross-cultural understanding, emotional-stability, entrepreneurial mindset, and meaningful work.
I then asked a simple question, “do children study or learn in schools?” The prompt response was study, whereas the most-imperative skill for the future is learning-2-learn, where individuals focus on self-learning in every moment/situation for continuous improvement.
I then shared a movie-clip from “The Book Of Henry” where Henry is conversing with his teacher, Mrs. Evans. Henry, is a very gifted child who wants to stay in a normal school to stay grounded and not get some cocky sense of entitlement.
Henry Carpenter: Our legacy isn’t what we write on our resume or how many commas we have in our bank account. It’s who we’re lucky enough to have in our lives and what we can leave them with. So, I say we do the best we can, and that’s what I think about my legacy.
Mrs. Evans: Henry, remind me again why we can’t put you in a gifted school?
Henry Carpenter: Because it’s better for my psychosocial development for me to interact with peers at a normal school environment.
What do you see as the main areas of concern when you work with children and adults?
After 12 years of working with hundreds of thousands of school owners/principals/parents/ teachers/students in schools/colleges/B schools around the globe through my talks/ workshops, I have concluded that future unready and creatively-challenged “broken” parents/educators/grown-ups (most, not all) are preparing children for the future and are stifling children with their limited beliefs, mindsets, thoughts, paradigms, and boundaries. To quote Frederick Douglas “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”.
Parents have reduced education to a career and fancy lifestyle, and end up making children develop a false sense of entitlement. That’s frightening!
Educators understand this but come under pressure as most parents only focus on performance of percentage. Thus, education gets reduced to studying-by-rote, to get high-percentage and a certificate/degree. So, the child becomes a career mule burdened all his life, in a thankless hated job (the Gallup World poll shows that 85% of people who come to work, hate their jobs). Truth be told, the child could have learned more, been more, done more, grown more, contributed more, if parents had chosen to focus more on their child’s innate potential.
Given the problems resulting from the educational focus on high percentage of marks, how do you see forums such as this attempting a shift?
As education change champions, we would like to lead parents and teachers to understand the need to go beyond academic knowledge and fancy-degrees.
Most Schools/Parents/Teachers focus on competence/talent without realizing that talent/competence is over-rated. It is not our talent/competence, but character that takes us beyond. Global studies have already proven this.
There is a dire need to focus on character rooted learning and to prepare children for learning-2-learn (identified as the most essential skill for the future), leadership and life skills which encompasses physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and moral intelligence. I explained to educators “empathy and emotional/moral intelligence is the biggest skill and currency for future growth. We must teach children to make a contribution and become contributors who create value and not just to chase a career as a “career mule”.
What makes you say that making a contribution and volunteering are very important life skills?
The Mojosh inspirator learning was created by the REX Karmaveer Life Skilling Gurukul, after 18 years of research and validated by several people around the world, who have gained through our training/coaching/mentoring workshops and talks in the corporate, education and non-profit sectors. The learning covers physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and moral intelligence and character-rooted learning essentially required for life and future careers.
There is ample research/data on why volunteering is one of the best forms of life skilling, and we are taking this character-rooted learning to schools through the international volunteering-life skilling fellowship (IVLF) and mojosh inspirator life, leadership and learning – 2 – learn lessons. They are designed to empower children lead a humane, holistically healthy and happy, life and lifestyle.
What is the aim of IVLF?
Through IVLF, we create joy and fun as we learn-2-learn. Students shall choose to volunteer for any cause/activity dear to their heart. Schools should not enforce the volunteering activity on the child. Every student shall be awarded/certified with the REX Karmaveer Chakra Badge of Honour/Citation, instituted in partnership with the UN. This citation will enable children to create a worthy profile/portfolio that has solid merit for future education and career opportunities. Currently, all Top universities/ employers look for persons with these skills.
We launched IVLF, at this forum, with the founder torchbearer schools who were awarded on 15 April, 2019
Any parting words, Jerry?
Imagine if schools/teachers/parents inspired solid character to unleash heroic potential and enabled children for learning-2-learn, to explore/realise/grow their unlimited-potential and powers, from childhood through the wonder years-in-school, rather than making them study the same-humdrum-books like sheep-in-a-herd and leaving them more confused in life, after receiving an expensive-degree.
Lions breed lions. Hence through the REX Karmaveer Education Change Champions Fellowship & Awards, we shall be working closely with the holy trinity, i.e. students-parents-teachers.