Education and community service have been part of my family tradition for three generations. My grandfather was the first principal of a traditional gurukul in south Gujarat. My father was a teacher here in Mumbai in one of the city’s best public schools. He could have continued teaching here, but hearing Gandhiji’s message that the real India lives in its villages, my father left Mumbai for rural south Gujarat. He became the founder principal of a village school in Endhal. After that, his whole life was dedicated to transforming the lives of the poorest of the poor through the redeeming power of education.
This is the tradition I inherited. When my turn came, I decided to carry forward the lamp of learning by setting up the Naik Charitable Trust which has built many schools in rural south Gujarat. This is the first School in a large metropolis like Mumbai, and we have great expectations from this institution. Our endeavor is to integrate the best of traditional and modern methods of teaching and to make it one of the most inclusive schools of this country. Its doors are open to all – with no distinction made between caste, community or creed. I strongly believe that education is a powerful tool for empowerment for it provides students access to opportunity.
The infrastructure here is among the best in the field of academics anywhere in the city. We have technology-enabled classrooms, libraries, and laboratories for several subjects, unique Safety and Innovation labs and Art Studios. All this is essential for a good school, but it is not enough. Ultimately, it is the competency of the teachers and the quality of the teaching they impart which really define a school.
So, we began by appointing Dr. Madhura Phadke, a well-known figure in the field of school education, as the principal and then proceeded to build the faculty and staff through a rigorous recruitment process. I was part of the apex of the 6-step selection process, and I have personally met every single staff member recruited at this school. That is how much I value the key roles played by the teachers in the academic process.
We hold a special responsibility in our hands: we have been entrusted with the responsibility of shaping the future of students who will in turn shape our country. Our Vision is that we will enable our students to grow into outstanding achievers with strong Indian values. Both are equally important – for this is a school where the acquiring of knowledge will go hand in hand with the attainment of wisdom.
Another very important aspect is a robust spirit of nationalism. I am very proud of being an Indian. If you visit any of my offices – either on the top floor of this building or anywhere around the world, you will see the Tricolor fluttering. That reminds me of my duty to the nation at every moment. I wish this sprit to be deeply ingrained in every student so that when they grow up, they are conscious of their larger national and social responsibilities. This means saying a firm ‘No’ to the temptations of migrating overseas and deciding to remain in our motherland and serve our people.
I hope to see alumnus from this school become nationally and perhaps globally acclaimed professionals in any of the vocations they choose – engineers, doctors, artists, musicians, experts in management and finance, sportsmen. And when asked about their success story, they will say with pride – it all began with this School.
Hearing those words will be my greatest joy.
I am confident that under the leadership of Dr Phadke, the entire school cohort will put in their best to make this school the finest in the city. Every student will ‘Learn, Lead and Achieve’ in service of this great nation of ours and the society to which we owe so much.