Mr Arpit Panjwani: Propagating Scholastic Advancements for the Underserved

Mr Arpit Panjwani
Mr Arpit Panjwani

Devoted to the welfare of the students, today’s education stimulates access for the pupils to enhance their lives by establishing a conducive course of events. Undoubtedly, education acts as an anchor that prevents the prospects of life from drifting away into destitution.

Unfortunately, not everyone is able to make way for education to proliferate in their lives. Considering this notion and accompanying the held-back community learners to access unparalleled education, Mr Arpit Panjwani, Director of Maa Anandmayee Memorial School (MAMS), promotes grassroots education, experiential learning, behavioural immersion, and sports amongst the underserved.

Under the leadership of Mr Arpit, the educational journey of students at MAMS goes beyond imparting basic knowledge or academic excellence. MAMS endeavours to equip its learners with the necessary life skills and values that help them to face the vagaries of life in a confident and courageous manner. MAMS employs a design-thinking approach to equip with 21st-century skill sets that can be used to address real-world issues.

In an interview with The Education View, Mr Arpit shared insights from his journey leading him to emerge as a transformative school leader. Below are the highlights of the interview.

Below are the highlights of the interview.

Please tell us about the inception story of the Edupreneur journey.

I’ve had the good fortune of being educated at some of the finest educational institutions, but that made me indignant for the less fortunate who lack access to quality education in our country. My grandfather (my main inspiration) established MAMS back in 1985 to serve the displaced rural population of the Tehri Dam Project in memory of his Guru Maa.

I first visited the school to celebrate the life and times of my grandfather upon his demise in 2012. Although the school had already groomed thousands of next-generation leaders, I felt there was tremendous scope to build on the impactful work already accomplished at the grassroots. I took upon myself a challenge to challenge the status-quo and carry forward a legacy as a tribute to my revered grandfather, who is fondly admired as a foremost philanthropic visionary for his noble and concerted efforts to serve the underserved.

Tell us about the institute’s mission, vision, and core values.

The school aims to be an institution of excellence dedicated to producing leaders of the future. MAMS endeavours to provide an all-around, sound foundation for broad-based education to the children in an atmosphere free from inhibitions and prejudices to promote their overall development and make them conscientious and responsible citizens.

The school motto chosen by our founder embodies the essence of the MAMS spirit, i.e., to Educate, Enlighten, Enrich and, at the same time, Empower the youth for a brighter tomorrow.

The School Tagline – “Discovering & Developing Each Child’s Interests & Gifts,” is tangential to the motto as it highlights the modus operandi through which the school seeks to achieve its core objectives.

What challenges did you face in your Edupreneur journey, and how did you overcome them?

Exploring an alternative educational paradigm is challenging in any scenario and more at the grassroots level. The lack of awareness amongst my target audience has been the foremost challenge that has been addressed through patient discussions, workshops, and campaigns with the support of educational experts. I genuinely believe in the philosophy of ‘letting one’s achievements talk for oneself.’

Resultantly, my students’ performances and selections in various prestigious scholarships have built credibility and confidence for parents to believe in our abilities and process thereof.

Being an influential Edupreneur, how do you ensure that educational space copes with emerging technologies?

Given that Edtech has evolved and progressed in recent years, we have a thriving Atal Tinkering Lab that is the hub of innovation, entrepreneurship, and STEM education at MAMS; it becomes imperative for us to keep pace with emerging technologies. Hence, as the leader of my school, I ensure that I keep myself abreast by attending regular conferences and webinars to learn from stalwarts in the industry and keenly following those who share best practices on social media.

Despite all challenges, what are the significant factors that keep motivating you towards success, and how does it inspire the students for their bright future?

As stated before, my grandfather is my foremost inspiration, and the fact that he had the vision and foresight to establish such an institution in a remote area almost four decades ago inspires me to know no bounds. Moreover, to achieve so much without having access to modern-day technology, especially the means of communication we use today, drives me crazy to accomplish more day after day.

As regards my students, I try to walk the talk and lead from the front by putting in more effort, passion, and hard work that is visible to them. That, I believe, motivates them to put in the extra effort to achieve more. I keep telling my students, you show me enough effort equivalent to your potential, and I will do whatever I can to take you places.

As an influential Edupreneur, what are the skills that the school and colleges should incorporate in the future generation of youth?

The key competencies for 21st-century learners are the ‘Four Cs’ (Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Collaboration) over and above any other skill set that schools endeavour to incorporate into their curriculum. Together with the aforementioned skills, schools and colleges should strive hard to incorporate digital skills to keep pace with the changing times.

Please do mention your significant achievements, accolades, and recognitions so far.

Although, I believe my foremost achievements are those of my students, I have been blessed with certain accolades that I truly cherish with utmost humility. I was anointed with the 40 Under 40 for Education Award by the BW Business World Magazine. I’ve also had the honour of being bestowed with the Uttarakhand Ratna Award by the Hon’ble Governor of Uttarakhand and the Shiksha Bharti Award by CED Trust.

Since I am an environmental enthusiast, Climate Reality India recognized me as a Climate Leader, and the Atal Innovation Mission (NITI Aayog) recognized me as a Mentor of Change for the Atal Tinkering Labs.

Amongst my major achievements thus, far is having two of my students get selected by AFS India for 100% scholarship exchange programs to USA and Japan, respectively.

Under my leadership, MAMS has been bestowed with the International School Award by British Council and has also been awarded as one of the Top 5 schools in India for Grassroots Social Impact by Education World.

Being an influential Edupreneur, what would be your advice for the future Edupreneur?

I would advise all aspiring edupreneurs to have the right mindset and perspective before joining the education landscape. Promoting educational institutions purely for the motive of profiteering will never be sustainable in the long run. If one truly aspires to make a difference, one must put students’ interests first over and above the bottom line.

How do you envision the future endeavour of the education space?

Unlike common perceptions about physical schools being out of vogue due to virtual learning during the pandemic, I am convinced that schools are here to stay. Schools and school leaders need to find a harmonious balance between physical and virtual schooling, and thus blended learning will have to be fine-tuned to achieve desired outcomes.

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