Every individual is unique in their own way: Yeshoda Pandit
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Every individual is unique in their own way: Yeshoda Pandit

March 8, 2022

Home is the first school and mother is the first teacher. And even in the academic field, it is the lady teachers who draw more love from students compared to the male staff.  Yeshoda Pandit is one such academician who, along with her husband, established the Orchids Education Society in 2001 in Ramakrishnanagar. 

She is presently the Principal of Orchid Public School and PU College. Before starting regular school, she started a school for special children called ‘Aastha’ in 2006 and a traditional school named Orchids Public School in 2012 and PU College in 2016 at Bogadi. Her academic qualifications include MA in English, History, M.Ed, Diploma in Child Care and an integrated course from the Regional Institute of Education (RIE). She is a trained Bharatanatyam dancer, loves gardening and has won awards in ball badminton.

By Shadan Muneer

Star of Mysore (SOM): It is very heartening to know that you run a school for special children. Can you share more details?

Yeshoda Pandit: I started this centre because of my son who is a special child and is diagnosed with Down syndrome. I didn’t want to send him to the traditional school as special children need special attention and education to address their differences, disabilities and special needs. Initially, I started with a small group to help such kids in socialising and to empower them to be their unique selves. I even started traditional schooling at bigger premises. At times we mix the special children with the normal children in classrooms and combine them for co-curricular activities.

SOM: Society’s perception is that special children cannot be part of mainstream society. How do you create awareness about this issue?

Yeshoda Pandit: At our school, we create awareness by educating young minds. Training and making the normal kids understand the psychology of special children is much easier as compared to the elderly people. We even counsel the parents and make them understand that special children are indeed part of society and can be trained to compete with others. I feel every school should have a special section for differently-abled children where they can be trained along with normal children.

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SOM: Everyone is aware of how challenging pandemic time was for teaching fraternity. What challenges did you face during this crisis and how did you overcome them?

Yeshoda Pandit: While e-learning emerged as the biggest saviour, it came with its own set of challenges. One of the stumbling blocks was lack of strong and stable internet connection as we have students from both rural and urban areas. The other issue was to give extra training to the teachers and make them aware of the new technology and motivate them for online teaching. Proper assessment and grabbing the attention of students and making them sit in front of the screens was also challenging. Gradually the students and teachers adapted to the new system.

SOM: There was a huge dropout of children especially girls during COVID-induced lockdowns. What do you have to say?

Yeshoda Pandit: This issue came up especially in rural areas. I feel the Government should take the help of the NGOs, teachers and volunteers and make them visit the nearby villages and create awareness about the importance of education among girls. The heads of Gram Panchayats will have to play a crucial role to address this issue. Therefore, they need to be educated as well. Improved infrastructure and innovative teaching can also help.

SOM: Elaborate on the measures to be taken to promote girls’ education.

Yeshoda Pandit: People must understand that educating a girl is like educating a family, a nation and a society. Some patriarchal societies have to be blamed for depriving girls of education. I don’t blame the education system but the mindset of people has to change. Child marriages and illiteracy must go.

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SOM: Are women better teachers?

Yeshoda Pandit: Yes definitely, women understand the psychology of the students and their emotional needs in a better way compared to men and act as second mothers to students. Around the world, there are 80 million teachers out of which more than 60 percent are women.

SOM: Some tips to the youngsters to deal with stress and competition.

Yeshoda Pandit: It is mostly the parental pressure. To deal with stress, students must prioritise their work, have a healthy lifestyle, make hobbies and indulge in physical activities. Owning pets also acts as a stress-buster. The Government is also introducing NEP (National Education Policy) which involves skill subjects that will help students identify what skill they are good at and eventually make a career in the same field.

SOM: Your message to women struggling to create their own identity?

Yeshoda Pandit: If you see the moon, you see the beauty of God; if you see the sun, you see the power of God; and if you see the mirror, you see the best creation of God. Every individual is unique. You need to believe in yourself and build your self-confidence and not feel inferior to anyone. Do not wait for opportunities to come your way but go ahead & look for opportunities to excel. Hard work, honesty and dignity will help you shine.

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