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‘Covid has underlined the abiding importance of character-building and imparting value-based education’

Annual Appreciation Day of Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park: Mr Aditya Berlia says values and character that are an intrinsic part of the experience at Apeejay Education, continue to guide all its stakeholders



Mr Aditya Berlia, Co-promoter, Apeejay Stya and Svran Group, co-founder, Pro Chancellor of Apeejay Stya University, and member management board, Apeejay Education, said the biggest lesson emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic is that the values and character that are an intrinsic part of the experience at Apeejay Education, continue to guide all its stakeholders: whether it is students, alumni, faculty or parents.
Speaking during Confluence, the Annual Appreciation Day celebrations of Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, on December 22, Mr Berlia underlined the enduring legacy of inculcating great values and character building that is being taken forward at Apeejay Education. “For my grandfather Dr Stya Paul, who was our founding chairman and really started the Apeejay journey, having great values and character was really important. If you really look at what has happened through Covid-19, we’ve seen examples of leaders who showed incredible character, who showed incredible valueswho stood by and helped people at full risk to themselves and their livesBut we also saw leaders and people who failed. Rather than helping institutions and supporting, they began tearing them down, they were panicking and unable to really do anything. For me this was a clear message about why Apeejay Education has always stood for values and character and whywe’ll always stand for it,” he said.

Core guiding principle

The stakeholders of Apeejay — students, alumni and faculty — perceive value-based education like a badge of honour. “Over the last two decades, we’ve made extraordinary strides in having an international curriculum, an extraordinary amount of innovation and technology being brought into our classroom along with completely new blended teaching and learning systems. But at our core, values and character are not just the most important part but a guiding principle and I think Covid-19 really taught us how much that matters and how much it really guides our students and our alumni. We have alumni all across the world. And during Covid-19, we were in touch with these 65,000 people trying to understand what they were doing and trying to either help them or seek help from them. All of them came back to us and said the number one thing that guided and helped them through this time was the values and character-building that they had learnt during their time at Apeejay Schools. I’m deeply proud of their achievements all over the world and in their companies. Whether they are professors at Ivy League colleges or doing great cultural work, or driving public policy, or CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, all of them go back and say the one thing that they learnt in Apeejay Education is great curriculum and fantastic teachers, but the values, the discipline the character-building is why I am the person I am today,” said Mr Berlia during his address.

‘As a society, we must celebrate our own achievements’

In the Chief Guest’s address, Mr Saurabh Garg, CEO, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), said he loved the idea of hosting an annual appreciation day. “As a society here in India we are perhaps very self-critical of ourselves, we tend to denigrate our own achievements. We very often forget to praise and appreciate others. So, I am so happy to see that Apeejay is taking the lead in hosting an Appreciation Day and I am sure there is enough to appreciate, celebrate and be proud of.”
Addressing students, Mr Garg said he wanted to ruminate over what he would do differently were he to return to being a student again. “As a student, I was nervous going to school. I am happy that issues such as corporal punishment are behind us. I used to be very nervous. Sometimes I used to be so nervous that I would start stammering. I would strongly advise each of the students that when you look back at my stage of life 30 years back, you realise that the causes of the nervousness seem to be tiny compared to problems that come as you grow up, but I must admit at that time, they seemed the most difficult things to surmount. But I am sure each one of you does it on a day-to-day basis and will continue to do it going forward.”
Mr Garg said he was glad to see the whole-hearted participation of so many students in the art and culture activities performed at Confluence 2021 that were a feast for the senses. “What else would I do differently? I am so happy to see an Arjuna Award winner (Badminton star Abhinn Shyam Gupta) among us to be speaking to you. And I think that’s one very important thing that students like you are getting a much greater focus on: sports, learning how to sing, how to dance, how to play an instrument. If I have one regret, it is that I can’t sing. I would love to sing but I just can’t sing. I was so happy to see such a large number of students participating in the cultural programmes such as the dances and invocations. I am so happy to see the school encouraging that. Maybe as a society we are much more encouraging of this than we were at a different stage of our socio-economic development a few decades back.”

Mr Saurabh Garg said he was glad to see the whole-hearted participation of so many students in the art and culture activities performed at Confluence, the annual Appreciation Day of Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, which were a feast for the senses

Mr Garg fondly recalled a bicycle trip he undertook as a student of class 11. “I remember travelling around with friends as a student in Delhi. Our group went by cycle to the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary a good 40 kilometres away. We cycled 40 km to the sanctuary and returned in the evening. I still remember that trip because of the kind of bonhomie it generates and the kind of friendship it develops. Just going to a different area and cycling for 80 kilometres is an experience in itself.  I am sure all of you must be getting those opportunities, must be doing many more things than we could even think of and I think that is what is enabling most of you to be well aware of not only yourselves, of your surroundings, but also building relationships. Which of course, over time becomes one of the most sustainable issues of interaction with friends, with relatives, with peers, with colleagues etc.”  

Apeejay, leading lights in NEP implementation

Mr Aditya Berlia pointed to the big infrastructure upgrade that Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park had undertaken during the pandemic. “We have taken the opportunity while Covid-19 was there to go on a campaign of upgrading the school. Many of you must go back and see and I invite all of our alumni present here and our community members to please visit the school when it’s open and take a tour. It’s a fully new, upgraded building, fully new upgraded classrooms and facilities. We have international level certified basketball courts and some of the best tennis courts in the country that are fully night-lit and huge sports facilities. There has been a massive infrastructure push and I really think that every day, every person who remembers the school the way I did, should go back and see the amazing infrastructure upgrades that have happened to bring the school into the 21st century,” said Mr Berlia.
Mr Berlia said the upgrade found reflection in the curriculum as well. “On the curriculum level, we’ve had the advantage of bringing in aspects of every international benchmark that we could whether it was Singapore, UK, Ireland, US into the school curriculum, going far beyond what the CBSE has said.

“In fact, as the new National Education Policy (NEP) has come in, Apeejay schools are considered leading lights. Not only in following NEP but actually leading by example and truly showing how schools can bring in everything from an inter-disciplinary to a transdisciplinary approach. We have been doing it for years. For all our parents here, I want to say one thing. When I see any student enter our school or join our education facility I’m just so grateful for each and every one of our parents who have placed their most precious loved ones in trust with us. And I want to sincerely thank you for that from the bottom of my heart. That trust is something we hold sacred. We want to work with all our stakeholders to make sure we can always be better but we are deeply grateful and appreciative of this sacred trust you’ve placed in us and we will do everything possible to truly live up to your expectations.”
Addressing students, Mr Berlia said their reputation was linked with the school’s reputation. “Your reputation is the school’s reputation. The school’s reputation is your reputation for life. Both of these are intrinsically linked. Do things that give credit to your school. If the school’s name increases, your name will increase with it as well.”

Aasheesh Sharma is a seasoned journalist with an experience of more than 25 years spread over newspapers, news agencies, magazines and television. He has worked in leadership positions in media groups such as Hindustan Times, India Today, Times of India, NDTV, UNI and IANS. He is a published author and his essay on the longest train journey in India was included in an anthology of writings on the railways, brought out by Rupa Publications. As the Editor of Apeejay Newsroom, he is responsible for coverage of the latest news and developments in the Apeejay institutions. He can be reached at [email protected]. He tweets @Aasheesh74

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