Published: 14th February 2018
Meet the principal from Hyderabad who has topped an exam for teachers
The principal of Focus High School, Minhaj Arastu, topped CENTA's TPO exam. So we talk to him about education and more
Students are subjected to several exams throughout the year, but CENTA's Teaching Professionals' Olympiad (TPO) is an exam for teachers that aims at not only rewarding but celebrating them and their profession. This year, the one to top the exam is from Hyderabad and he isn't just a teacher; Minhaj Arastu, who has pursued a BA in History from Cornell University and an MA in Teaching from the University of South Carolina, is the principal of Focus High School in Darushifa, Hyderabad.
After pursuing his education abroad, Arastu returned to Hyderabad and joined a group of professionals who were already brainstorming a student-centric institute that would offer both quality and accessible education. That was the start of Focus High School in 2013. "There is a long tradition in India of missionary and charitable institutions offering both quality and accessibility, but these models can't scale up until the government gets involved," opines Arastu.
It was in 2013 that Focus High School, an IB school for children from low-income families in the Darushifa area of Hyderabad
And as for the choice of Board, the principal feels that the school matters much more than the Board and this school's culture and approach are what set it apart. And though technology is making information more accessible, a curator is needed to make sure that relevant information is passed on to students. That's where teachers come in, and despite technology, they will always be important and integral to the learning process. "Data is shapeless and structureless. The teacher is the interpreter of this data who guides the students through the maze that is the internet," says Arastu.
And what about the parents? Is their role of teaching at home still intact? Arastu feels that the primary duty of parents is not to get swayed or misguided by marketing initiatives or statistics, and play the role of "modelling the experience of a child, indulging in conversations and walking beside your child."
Victory pic: Focus High School staff with the principal (second from right) and CENTA Founder-Director, Anjali Jain (third from right)
While the staff of Focus High School have been giving the TPO exams for two years now, it is Arastu's first attempt. And exams like the TPO go a long way in building this student-centric culture. "The teaching process is not just about the completion of syllabus, but it is more about the teaching methodology. The questions are well-researched and cover a wide range of areas; it is definitely worthwhile," says Arastu. As far as the students go, he urges them to open their eyes to all the different professions that they can explore through the avenues that are available to them. "For example, your parents’ social circle. You can get information from them, even all those who work around you; interact with them. When you look around, you'll find many good opportunities that you can take up later in life," he concludes.
To know more about the school, check out their website focushighschool.org