Martin MJ, New Asia Pacific International Kerala School, Jalandhar, Punjab
Born into a middle-class family in Kerala, Martin MJ always knew he wanted to become a teacher and follow in his mother’s footsteps. He was determined to make a positive impact on the education system and support his mother’s efforts in the field.
In the initial days, Martin’s mother and her friends considered starting a school in Jalandhar, as they were involved in the education sector. However, during one of her visits to a village where she planned to establish the school, they realized that there were no good schools in the vicinity. Martin explains, “There were no Kerala management schools in the village, and that’s when she came up with the idea of opening a high-quality school that would be affordable for low-income families.”
In 2013, the school was established as Asia Pacific International Kerala School, but in 2016 it was renamed to New Asia Pacific International Kerala School to reflect its commitment to providing high-quality English medium education in Jalandhar. Martin and his team chose to offer English medium education due to the lack of good English medium schools in the area.
After doing research, they found out that 70-80% of the students in the region come from families of daily wage labourers.
With this in mind, Martin and his team set out to create a school that catered to the specific needs of the local community. They knew that opening a school in a remote area of Jalandhar would be a challenging task, but they were determined to make a difference.
“Over the past three years, we have achieved 100% results in the board exams,” shares Martin, his voice filled with pride. “It’s a remarkable achievement that sets us apart from other schools in the area.”
But Martin’s dedication to his students goes beyond just numbers and rankings. He reveals that many CBSE schools have a concerning practice of asking underperforming students to leave after 8th grade in order to maintain their own academic records. However, Martin refuses to give up on any child and admits that he takes those struggling students into his school and works tirelessly with them to improve their learning outcomes.
Martin firmly believes that every child is unique and learns at their own pace. To leave any student behind would not only hinder their academic progress but also affect their mental well-being. For Martin, it’s not just about achieving high scores but also ensuring that every student feels valued and supported throughout their educational journey.
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Experience with Varthana
“Up until 2018, our school was struggling to keep up with the constantly increasing number of students. Our facilities were stretched to their limit, and it felt like we were moving at a snail’s pace,” recounts the school leader. “With a total of 500 students, managing everything was an enormous challenge.”
But then, with the help of Varthana, we were able to complete construction on a new building in 2019. It was a major victory, one that gave us the space we needed to teach and care for our students properly.
Unfortunately, just when we thought things were turning around, COVID-19 hit in 2020. It was a devastating blow, and once again, we found ourselves struggling to accommodate all of our students safely. But through it all, Varthana was our rock. They stood by us, offering support in every way they could.
“Looking back on the past few years, it’s hard not to feel a sense of emotional resonance. We’ve faced enormous challenges, but we’ve also been blessed with incredible allies. With Varthana’s help, we’ve been able to create a place of learning and growth for our students, even in the face of adversity. And for that, we will always be grateful,” Martin asserts.
Schools During COVID-19
“The lockdown had a devastating impact on their school community. Our student strength went down from 500 to 250,” he added, with a hint of despair in his voice. “To make matters worse, many students left for government schools without even taking their transfer certificates, leaving the remaining students in need of special attention.”
During the lockdown, only essential goods were allowed to move, making it challenging for the school to provide necessary materials to its students. However, Martin was determined to ensure that their studies didn’t get affected. He took special permission from the DM and personally visited each student’s home to provide them with textbooks, without charging them a single penny. He also purchased software that allowed teachers to record their classes and upload them on YouTube for easy access by the children. This way, they could monitor how many students watched the videos and keep track of their progress.
Despite the challenges, Martin and his team adapted to the new normal with resilience and determination. However, after reopening in 2021, they observed that some students had become too aggressive in their behaviour, causing concern among parents. “To address these issues, we conducted one-on-one meetings with the students and formed a remedial group to ensure that no student would fall behind,” he declared with pride, despite the many challenges they faced.
Martin has a completely different approach to education, one that is grounded in providing affordable quality education in the long run. To achieve this goal, he knows that he needs trained and qualified teachers. That’s why he works tirelessly to ensure that his teachers are given the resources they need to succeed. He knows that without exceptional teachers, his students would not be able to reach their full potential.
But Martin’s commitment to quality education does not come without a cost. To maintain the balance between affordability and quality, he tends to increase fees every year to ensure that they don’t compromise on the quality of education that they provide.
Martin’s dedication and hard work are truly inspiring. His efforts have not gone unnoticed, as the New Asia Pacific International Kerala School is a testament to his commitment to providing quality education to those who may not have access to it otherwise. It is clear that his efforts are making a real difference in the community.
In a world where education is often seen as a commodity, a school leader’s focus on quality education and his passion for making a difference in the lives of his students is truly refreshing. He is a true leader in the field of education, and his vision for affordable quality education is one that we can all learn from.