Indian schools Board of Directors in Oman hails progress [Times of Oman]
(Times of Oman Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Muscat: As the present Board of Directors (BoD) for Indian schools in Oman gets set to pass on the baton to a new team, its members expressed a great deal of satisfaction at what they have been able to achieve during the last three years. Incidentally, this was the first board in which five of the 15 members were elected.
"We firmly believe that we were able to showcase the highest standards in terms of transparency and approachability. Besides, we could achieve many milestones for the benefit of the students studying in Indian schools despite many hurdles," said Tonny George Alexander, the outgoing chairman, Board of Directors for Indian schools in Oman.
"The journey was challenging but much was achieved. We dealt every issue we faced with professionalism. We kept the interest of the students studying in our schools above everything else," he said.
Reviewing the accomplishments, Tonny said, "One of the major concerns of the parents was procuring admissions for their children in the capital area. In the past, parents had to undergo a lot of hardships during admission time. The first step the board took was to do away with quotas for members of the BoD and the school management committees (SMC). We made all seats available on open merit.
"To ease the process, online Centralised Admission System (CAS) was introduced. E-mail and SMS were used to acknowledge the receipt of the registration forms and also to inform the status of the computer random allocation of seats. We are proud to state in the last two years that all the students who applied were allotted seats. The entire processes were documented for ease of use in the future."
Lending a professional touch to the Centre for Special Education was among the BoD's major goals.
"To facilitate empowerment of the students with special educational needs was our objective. The BoD took on the project of providing better facilities for these students. A task force comprising BoD members and volunteers from the community was formed to study and propose solutions. They initiated many workshops to sensitise the mainstream teachers, children and parents. Specialised teachers and a centre-in-charge were appointed to ensure specialised training for these children," he said.
The BoD has initiated efforts to get accreditation from National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) so that Indian School Muscat can offer flexi learning opportunities.
The outgoing chairman explained that though revision of fee initiated in different schools was criticised by some section of the parents, it was the need of the hour.
"It was for financial sustainability that we did it. It was needed for smooth functioning and future expansion. It had to be done considering the rise in prices," he said. He explained that in genuine cases, parents who couldn't afford the fees were helped by schools and through good Samaritans who came forward to support the cause.
"We were also able to standardise minimum basic salaries for teachers and initiate pay revision, which was implemented across the board in 2012," the outgoing chairman explained.
Tonny noted that the move to ensure that procurements are made only through open tenders increased transparency. "We introduced the whistle blowing policy and put in place a policy manual," he said.
To ensure participation of the parents in the management of the school, almost all the vacancies in the SMC's were filled in by volunteering parents.
"This was another priority for the board," he said.
For the first time that Indian students residing in Oman were able to take the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) in Muscat after ISM became an official centre for the examination last year.
"Proactive steps by the BoD led to the ISM being declared as a centre for IIT-JEE, and application for a centre for National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) has also been submitted," said Tonny.
The board encouraged schools outside Muscat to offer higher classes to their students.
"IS Mabelah and IS Jaalan are already in the process of obtaining CBSE affiliation for offering secondary classes. IS Rustaq started offering classes for Grade VII. IS Sur and IS Seeb are now offering science stream of senior secondary classes," Tonny said.
With the ever-growing number of students seeking admission into Indian schools, capacity of the schools continues to be a challenge. "The BOD always encouraged SMC's to enhance the infrastructure wherever possible and to look for alternatives. The board initiated additional class rooms in ISM by hiring a villa near ISM, additional classrooms are being built in IS Seeb, IS Mabelah, IS Sur, IS Jaalan, IS Muladha and IS Salalah. IS Ibra will move into a custom built long leased premises by the beginning of academic year 2015," Tonny said.
The outgoing chairman summed up that running the Indian community schools which educate nearly 42,000 students naturally comes with a lot of challenges. Fortnightly meetings were convened and members of the board stood together for a single cause. "While I thank each one of the members for their contributions and support, all of us are proud that we could contribute to the overall growth of Indian schools in Oman. As we hand over our responsibility, we wish the best for Indian schools in Oman and the new board," he said.
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