Apostolic Carmel Sister MARIA SUZETTE, Vice principal of Burnhall school Is a teacher and educationist of par excellence . In an exclusive interview with News Kashmir, she talks to Rameez Makhdoomi .
Please share some memories of your childhood ?
I was born and brought up in Goa and was fifth sibling among six brothers and sisters in our family. Since childhood i had an inclination to serve humanity and so gave my aspiration practical shape by becoming ‘sister ‘. I studied and trained for same at Mumbai, Maharashtra convent for five years and then got the religious dress and started as a teacher in Nagpur Maharashtra. I landed in Jammu and Kashmir in year 2007 and in Kashmir I am working since past three years.
How does being an educationist help you in achieving your goal of serving humanity ?
At the end of day as a Missionary Educationist I feel contentment that I have been able to make a difference in a life of child and it is not about just the intellectual dimensions of a child but also enhancing him morally and spiritually. Guiding via education a child towards the right path is a real service to humanity
How has been your experience in the state of Jammu and Kashmir?
Having spent more than one decade in Jammu Kashmir I would say it has been quite enjoying and appreciable experience. Initially I felt homesick but then adapted nicely in Jammu and as per requirement I was posted to Kashmir and this is my third winter here. Both in Jammu and Kashmir I have felt safe and kept working, driving till late hours and it has overall been a great experience in this state full of nice humans.
How would you define the children of Kashmir since you directly deal with children?
The children of Kashmir are quite bright and have high IQ, but the uncertainties of this place disturb the rhythm of their life, but we here at Burnhall school try our level best to keep students in touch with school life via diverse activities.
Many voices opine that missionary education has played positive role in South Asia academic scenario. How do you see it?
In the entire region of South Asia Missionaries have undoubtedly played a major role in education, trying to educate and be quality educators. Have we been the best only people can answer but we have definitely tried to play a best role in education sector.
Many believe that since quality is associated with missionary schools there should be more such institutes to cater to the aspirations of parents and children?
Our goal as missionary schools is entirely different than other. In private schools many a time the motive is profit driven. Here we work just for selfless service. If you will ask me for hundred rupees for something I can’t give because I purely look on academic front such is the quality atmosphere here.
Unfortunately lot of misgivings are created about missionary education not just in Kashmir but in other parts. Recently in Karnataka someone had stated missionaries produce children like missionary. We are not to change a children opinion but always in pursuing of helping a child to empower his or intellect and not to interfere in his intellectual growth but just to enlighten and empower children to formulate their own bright vision .
Are you ready to share your expertise with other schools as yours is one of the prominent schools?
Missionary schools are on path to adopt many schools and such thing has already happened in places like Chandigarh and Delhi. I am here ready to listen and share knowledge with other schools if they feel need. We are as missionary educationists not conditioned to be teacher of just one school but teacher of entire community to fulfill our larger goal of serving humanity.
What do you advise your fellow teachers most?
I tell all teachers that your focus should be to impart skill and healthy life values in children and try to create space in the heart of the children because that matters most. We should also respect the outlook of students
We are here to give them vision. I remember when I was deputed for the first time here in Burnhall school.. I told them I am neither here as Indian nor as Kashmiri I will not impose my opinion on you but help you in forming your opinion.
Are parents here cooperating with you?
Parents are the basic component and more important than we are because they are the first teachers of a child. Both teachers and parents have crucial role to build a child towards constructive life. Parents in Kashmir are overall highly cooperative and we as teachers need to follow complete integrated approach and treat every child equally to achieve betterment.
An allegation against non missionary and missionary schools is that they try to degrade local language and culture of students. How do you react to this statement?
You have asked a good question. I often order teachers that you will have to teach and make students learn kashmiri as indigenous cultures and languages are must. A person without know-how of his language or culture is a human without a proper pedestal. We are also giving due importance to local cultures and languages.
What should teachers focus on while teaching children?
We need to give time and space to the child. We cannot impose our views on the child and should not impose anything on them but accompany them. We need to respect all schools. Child will cover his journey successfully only when imposition is not forced .
Anything you would like to share?
Sometimes people do not understand life of a priest or sister and once there is misunderstanding it creates problems. I am sent here as a requirement. People should understand sacrifice of a father or sister. We are not angels but humans selected among humans to help others lead a good life. We should also not condemn humans just for mistakes and it applies to all of us.