Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Indus International School Plans Engagement with Civil Society

Bangalore’s Indus International School, promoted by a group of industrialists, technopreneurs, and academicians, and led by the much decorated former soldier and scholar, Lt. Gen. Arjun Ray, VSM, PVSM, and noted academician Mrs. Sarojini Rao, is nowadays exploring ways and means in which students can engage and contribute to the civil society around them.

For those who have known Bangalore’s Indus International School up-close, it is unnecessary to hear that this is a school which is different, created by leaders from various walks of life, for grooming leaders of tomorrow. This essence of the school has been best captured by the pivotal role, Lt. Gen. Arjun Ray, has taken on in the school ever since its start in 2003.

However, this Param Vishisht Seva Medal holder had some sobering advice to tomorrow’s leaders recently. Addressing students from four Bangalore schools, including Indus, the much decorated General reminded, “One needs to serve first, then lead.”

Though an often repeated theme long back, during the Gandhi era, the timing and the target couldn’t have been more challenging. The retired General was not addressing an average cross-section of Indian students, but students hailing from relatively affluent families across the globe, who have been fortunate to study at posh international schools, like Indus, in India’s Silicon Valley.

The General’s logic? “Students in India are disengaged from the civil society,” thunders this mostly suave army man who has attended the prestigious Staff College, UK.

The timing couldn’t have been better. Civil society has been in the limelight than ever before during the last three months. Civil society leaders like Anna Hazare, Aruna Roy, Arvind Kejriwal, and many others had emerged as new beacons of hope for a country ravaged by corruption.

But student engagement with civil society has been a largely neglected area. But then General Ray and the Indus Trust and its schools that he heads, is known to walk their talk. Just visit Indus International Community School, a group school located at Billapura Cross, Sarjapur, Bangalore. Or just have a look at their website. This is the world’s first ever international school created for poverty-stricken students by, believe it or not, the students of Indus International School.

The Indus CEO had delivered these words during the Charter signing of another novel venture. The school collaborated with three other premium schools in Bangalore to come up with Inter Student Council League, an arrangement that will facilitate welfare of schools through sharing knowledge with each other.

Displaying zero-egos and a non-protectionist attitude, these schools are setting an example for other schools to follow in sharing. Indeed, the League is already inviting other noted schools to join, subject to the adherence of some guiding principles.

Though the sharing will include academics, sports, and arts, core thrust areas will be community outreach and environmental betterment. To get the ball rolling, the League has already tied up with the noted NGO, Child Rights & You (CRY) to organize various events that would lend power to addressing crucial child rights issues.

The Indus campus is nowadays in a drowsy mood. The academic session had come to a close on June 10th, and summer holidays are on. The over 1100 students from over 32 countries that make up Indus Bangalore would now return to this campus on July 25th (for Grades 10 & 12), and August 8th (for all others) for the new academic year.

When the year reopens, it would be another eventful one for the students of Indus. For years now, the noteworthy events that leaders like Lt. Gen. Ray and Principal Mrs. Sarojini Rao have facilitated for the students, teachers, and parents, have come to define much of the unique experience of being in the Indus family.

The Science Exhibition, participation in Destination Imagination, visit by France’s Victor Hugo School, Harvard Model United Nations, trips to Germany & France, and Indus Dance Fest, were only a few among the numerous events hosted by Indus during the last year.

Coming to the aspect of what makes academics at Indus truly outstanding, Indus Principal, Mrs. Sarojini Rao, recently opined, “Apart from the curricula, we provide our students orientation on emerging knowledge domains like ecology, entrepreneurship, bio-diversity, internet technologies, bio-technology etc.”

Mrs. Rao, stood first in her University in Economics and is a double postgraduate in Education and Economics. She is trained in all the three IB programs (PYP, MYP and DP), and is also a graduate from the Principal’s Training Center for International School Leadership, USA.

The 40-acre Indus Campus in Bangalore is not only an awe-inspiring one in its looks, but a carefully thought out campus. The spacious classrooms are more than ample for the limit of 25 students, and are equipped with play areas for pre-school, projection systems, computer facilities and lockers. The integrated sports complex comprises an indoor-stadium and an outdoor track and field stadium. The well-equipped amphitheatre has a seating capacity of over 800.

Indus admits both residential students and day scholars. There are separate boys and girls hostels based on the 'house' concept. Each hostel is closely supervised by an experienced houseparent.

After the success of their flagship Bangalore school, the Indus Trust has established two more similar schools, Indus International School, Pune and Indus International School, Hyderabad. The Indus Trust is promoted by highflying industrialists, technopreneurs, and academicians like Sushil Mantri, Kumar Malavalli, HB Jairaj, and Professor Shivaram Malavalli.

Speaking to Seasonal Magazine, Gen. Ray opined on what really differentiates the Indus experience for students. “We are very particular that the environment here promotes order, fearlessness, independence, a love for learning, a connection to the world, and a sense of social responsibility.” These values are much in sync with the International Baccalaureate Curriculum the schools follows.

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