The conclave served as a platform for eminent educators and mental health professionals to come together to be part of a day that revolved around the needs and varying developments in the educational space.
As is tradition, the event began with the lighting of the lamp by eminent educators which was followed by a prayer recital and folk dance by the senior students of the Ashok Hall School. What ensued was a warm welcome address by Ms. Julia Bailey, Director – Education, Ashok Hall Group of Schools, followed by an engaging session that discussed the true nature and meaning of inclusivity.
Next in the events for the morning was Mr. Prodipta Hore, Program Director, Aditya Birla Education Academy, who made a detailed presentation to enlighten the audience about the academy and its offerings.
This was followed up with the panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Samantak Das, Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University. The panellists that graced the discussion with their knowledge and expertise were Ms. Anjana Saha, Principal, Mahadevi Birla World Academy, Kolkata, Mrs. Sangita Shah, Senior School Teacher, St. Patrick’s Higher Secondary School, Asansol, Mrs. Seema Sapru, Principal, The Heritage School, Kolkata, Ms. Sonali Sarkar, Principal, Mahadevi Birla Shishu Vihar, Ms. Sujata Sen, CEO, Future Hope India and Mr. Vipul Redey, Head of School Engagement, Khan Academy. This eclectic group of educators highlighted various elements as they discussed and debated the topic – Leaving No One Behind: how can classrooms be made truly inclusive?
The discussion shone light on interesting aspects of inclusion which were discussed from the point of view of both weak learners and gifted learners along with the many facets of diversity in the classroom. The panel also enlisted and deliberated over the four pillars of inclusion i.e. awareness, acceptance, understanding and attention. The importance of parent involvement, mentoring, pastoral care, empathy and student empowerment being pivotal to a child’s wellbeing in the school was stressed upon and there was a sense of unanimity amongst all present at the event when it was being deliberated that the differences in the classroom should be celebrated by educators, wherein effort should be given a higher reward status than achievement.
The post tea line-up witnessed a reflective group activity conducted seamlessly by Dr. Patricia Mathews, English Language Fellow, The American Center, Kolkata who provided case studies to the attendees and facilitated a round of reflection and discussion about how to deal with different situations in the classroom and what can be done to ensure that we have inclusive education.
Mental Health was the focal point of the discussions in the latter part of the day. Dr. Sanjay Garg, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospitals introduced and initiated a conversation about Mental Health and its growing importance in his keynote address which was further delved into through a lively and immersive group discussion facilitated by Ms. Parveen Shaikh, Head – Outreach & Collaborations, Mpower that focussed on the pivotal topic – Child & Adolescent Mental Health: A Didactic Approach.