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‘Teaching isn’t just a sacred duty, it is a higher calling’



On the eve of Teachers Day, 2021, members of the Apeejay family were addressed by
Mr Nishant Berlia,  Co-Promoter, Apeejay Stya and Svran Group; Mr Aditya Berlia,
Co-Founder and Pro Chancellor, Apeejay Stya University and Dr Neha Berlia, Co-Promoter, Apeejay Stya and Svran Group. Here are edited excerpts from their speeches, which were full of industry insights, life lessons and the way forward for the teaching community, particularly in the light of the implementation of the new National Education Policy (NEP).

Thoughts on the eve of Teachers Day by Mr Nishant Berlia, Co-Promoter, Apeejay Stya and Svran Group

First of all, it is a real pleasure to be here. For me I always consider myself an Apeejay product. I take the greatest pride in being an Apeejay parent as well. On the eve of Teachers Day, I have so many memories related to teachers and our faculty. There is a lot said these days about infrastructure, marketing and all sorts of other elements in education. But as an Apeejay student and Apeejay parent, the most critical thing for me has always been faculty. The impact that faculty supported by a good system can have on an individual’s life at so many levels – whether it is academics, co-curricular or value systems – there is really no parallel. They are our greatest strength at Apeejay.  And that is something we should build on.

The second part I wanted to add is that word-of-mouth is very powerful. Even today, as an alumni, I can tell you how quickly we come to know if something is doing well in one of our institutions, or something is not there. During Covid, in a global crisis when so many private institutions struggled and there was talk of lost years in education in the public sector, the way we have come out and the way each of you has done remarkable work, is fantastic. Congratulations on the great work and looking forward to greater laurels for our organisation.

Thoughts on the eve of Teachers Day by Mr Aditya Berlia,
Co-Founder and Pro Chancellor, Apeejay Stya University

Whatever we have done in the past as Apeejay Education, we have maintained that teachers are the most important part of the organisation. They are the ones who carry the right values not just in front of students in the classroom but to the greater community at large. We can have buildings, new renovations and changes and we will, but the most important part is to see how we can change and become better at doing the most fundamental thing: teaching and making sure that we have a personal responsibility for the success of our students.

On teaching as a sacred duty

One of the most interesting things I see when I talk to teachers who work in other countries such as the United States is that they don’t think that students respect them. They don’t think the community respects them. Thanks to our long-standing traditions and culture and because of the ethos of our institutions, I can still say that today teachers are extraordinarily respected in our communities.  This also means teaching is a profession with a higher calling.

On teaching as a higher calling

There used to be this notion that you become a teacher because you are not good for anything else. But everybody who is here and particularly when you are part of the Apeejay family, you are here because you love this. This is your calling. You would not want to do anything else. And that is a big differentiator between everybody here today with us and others.

The second part is also very important. If it is a profession, we have to make sure we behave like professionals. We must ensure we are continuously updated with what we are learning. Our own ability to deliver to students what is happening around the world, learn techniques, work with our colleagues and truly see that year, by year, by year, we are growing.

Teachers and the power to transform

Teachers for me also play a much larger role than just simply imparting knowledge. The way you communicate with students, how you encourage them, is equally important. A casual negative comment or a casual positive comment can have a profound impact on a student. It can encourage someone or it can break them down. And these are the people we are counting on to be our future leaders. This is why we call it a sacred duty and trust. It is because you are impacting not just the person in the classroom or a scholar, but their parents, their siblings, their grandparents and their entire family and community.  If you can have an impact on that person, forget about waiting 10 or 20 years for them to graduate, you can have a transformative effect on what that person will do for their families and their communities every day. This is something only a teacher can do, working with them one on one in an enlightened classroom.

Lessons from Covid

One of the most interesting things I saw during the Covid pandemic was a lifting of the wave. So many schools used to claim, ‘we are so great and tech-savvy.’ But when Covid hit, in three to four months, all of them were gone. All of you were in your classrooms virtually within the first few weeks running assignments and exams and improving. Post Covid, I have realised that we have a moral duty as Apeejay to continue to contribute, grow and expand. It is our duty to not just continue doing what we are doing together and to take the great values, ethos and culture of Apeejay Education to every part of India and perhaps even the world.

The NEP revolution in India’s education

The NEP is a great enabler. So many of you have contributed and we have been pushing the government to come up with this policy for decades. It is finally here. I am hoping that in the next few months, we will see the NEP in action. We have already seen state by state, I am very encouraged by what our chief ministers and our ministers are saying, that they are committed to making this policy come out. It is a one-time extraordinary journey on which we will go together. This is something that is uniquely challenging and something we all get to work on together. Imagine, the work we do in the next two-three years will transform the way education looks in the next two decades.

 Thoughts on the eve of Teachers Day by Dr Neha Berlia,
Co-Promoter, Apeejay Stya and Svran Group

I just want to add a note of thanks to the teachers for their role in Covid times. I see the continuous efforts of teachers every day where they are running through Zoom classes and managing households with children and in spite of everything, being resilient. I am grateful that we have managed well during this challenging period and it is only because of our teachers that we were able to achieve this. So, thank you for all the effort and the love put in. Even our students see this. During admission season, I got a call from a parent who was really keen on her child being shifted from another school and enrolled in Apeejay since she had heard that the online teaching in Apeejay was very good. I was very proud to see that. As Aditya Ji also pointed out, post-Covid, we are shining. My sincere hope now that we are weathering the pandemic: Let’s keep up this energy. Let us continue to grow more. I have full confidence in the ability of our teachers to now shine further. That being said, I would end on a nice quote: “When someone asks why someone would ever become a teacher, remind them why it’s worth it. Every job has its ups and downs, but not every job can change a life.”
Remember, gratitude goes a long way. I will never forget the teachers who taught me at Apeejay. I have fond memories of all my teachers, their teachings and the life lessons I learnt.

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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