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How a physical education teacher from Delhi is actively promoting inclusivity and gender equality

Arvind Kaushal has been associated with Special Olympics Bharat and a gender equality programme by British Council

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Arvind Kaushal recently won the CBSE Honour for Excellence Award

Apeejay School Pitampura’s physical education HOD Arvind Kaushal recently won the coveted “CBSE Honour for Excellence in Teaching and School Leadership 2021-22”. Associated with the school for almost 27 years, the award recognises his exemplary services throughout his tenure. “It is a great honour for me. But I am still grounded and would like to learn more and contribute as much as I can. I want to keep myself up-to-date, especially in the field of physical education,” he says.

The award was presented by the following dignitaries: Anapurna Devi, Minister of State – Education, Dr Shubhash Sarkar, Minister of State – Education, Dr Rajkumar Ranjan, Minister of State – Education, Nidhi Chhibber, IAS, Chairman CBSE, Anita Karwal, Secretary School Education, Jagadesh Kumar, Chairman UGC and AICTE, and Dr Rajkumar Singh Ranjan, Minister of State – Education.

As a veteran, the teacher wears many hats. He is actively involved in the committee for the CBSE physical education curriculum. He has also been appointed as the CBSE Observer for various sports meets, especially athletics, at the national level. Moreover, he is associated with Special Olympics Bharat—for specially-abled children—from Apeejay Pitampura. Every year, the school invites children from Upasana Special School to get their students to participate in various physical activities.

‘Want to make specially-abled children feel included’

“We started this in our school in 2010. Our purpose is to promote inclusivity and to make the children realise that they are no less than others. Along with inclusive or unified sports meets, we also conduct workshops and seminars,” shares the master trainer of Special Olympics Bharat. “Last year, we had a unified yoga competition, unified football, relay, and a unified tug of war.”

Sharing his experience with the Special Olympics, he stresses how the level of awareness has improved over the years. “We have been interacting with parents as well as teachers. They are very supportive. To build inclusivity, we assign one child to one athlete or an Apeejay student where they get the chance to work together as their respective families also get involved in the activities,’ he adds. “This initiative has been successful in not only making special children feel included in society but also has motivated them to stay active. It is not about giving them any special treatment but making them a part of our regular events with slight modifications.”

‘My father advised me to do at least one good deed a day’

Arvind Kaushal is driven by the motto of equality for all, something he imbibed in his growing-up years from his father. He says, “My father was with the railways and an advocate at Delhi High Court. He always extended his support to everyone, no matter their caste, creed, religion, or gender. I grew up seeing him drafting letters or assisting fellow villagers with court-related work without any fee. He would always advise us to do at least one good deed a day. That continues to be my source of motivation.”

Apeejay founder chairman Dr Stya Paul was also someone he was inspired by. “I met him only a few times, but I remember our meetings vividly. He was always very cordial and supportive. He would tell me to work harder and continue learning.”

‘There is increasing participation of women in sports now’

Taking ahead his mission of promoting equality, the physical education teacher has now also joined an initiative by British Council on gender equality, along with Apeejay Pitampura’s music teacher Manju Verma. “We were selected for a trip to Lord’s in the UK. We had a five-day workshop which highlighted that sports and dance cannot be gendered—boys and girls can pursue them equally,” he explains.

Arvind is a father of a young girl himself. His daughter Kalash Kaushal, an alumna of the same school, is also associated with Special Olympics Bharat as an intern. She is also the founder of Girl Up Aashayein, which spreads awareness about menstrual hygiene, domestic abuse, etc. The proud father says, “Not just in the case of my daughter, I make it a point to encourage all the girls to play cricket or football, for instance, among all other sports. I try to motivate them as much as possible. I don’t believe that girls should only participate in dance and music and boys should do sports. In fact, we usually have a mixed group of students and are not gender-specific while organising sports events. They all play together. For inter-school competitions at our school, we encourage other schools to send both girls and boys together in one team in equal numbers.”

At the national and international level too, a lot of initiatives have been taken towards eliminating the much-debated gender divide in sports, the teacher emphasises. “There has been a lot of improvement. At the international level, the prize money in tennis is the same for men and women, be it Wimbledon or US Open. In India, BCCI is actively involved in women’s cricket. Besides, the Indian Olympics Association now offers the same standard of facilities and coaching to both genders. We feel proud to see so many female sportspersons winning medals. There is increasing participation of women now and that is a great achievement.”

Arvind Kaushal’s efforts are not just limited to his professional space. He consciously practises gender equality at home too, whether it is about dividing household chores or encouraging his son and daughter to do the same. As a father, he believes it is important to support and encourage children to dream and achieve their goals. “Of course, you must guide them but that does not imply imposing your choices on them. I encourage my kids to work hard and contribute to making society a better place,” he says.

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Senior Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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