The Kuruvila Jacob Initiative :

Kuruvila Jacob’s tenure at Madras Christian College High School

Kuruvila Jacob was the Headmaster of Madras Christian College High School, Chennai, from 1931 to 1962. Appointed as headmaster at the young age of 27, he embarked on his life’s work with a vision that education did not mean scholastic achievement alone, but all-round development of the student. During the period of his stewardship, he strove for excellence in the true sense of the word. He ensured that the school was accessible to every strata of society and that there were absolutely no social or religious barriers. After retirement in 1962 from Madras Christian College High School, Kuruvila Jacob became the principal of Hyderabad Public School. In 1969, Mr. Jacob moved to Mumbai to become the principal of the Cathedral and John Connon School, the first Indian to head the school.

The late Kuruvila Jacob was a teacher par excellence and a legend in his own time. Respected in India as an outstanding educationist, he was invited by the Indian government to serve on several educational bodies. Very few men influenced educational policies and systems to the extent that Mr. Kuruvila Jacob did in the 1950s and 1960s. Besides being a brilliant administrator, he was a kind-hearted teacher ever mindful of the well-being of his students.

The Kuruvila Jacob Initiative

To honour this great educationist and humanist on his birth centenary in 2004, a substantial body of his students and alumni of Madras Christian College High School launched the Kuruvila Jacob Initiative for Promoting Excellence in School Education on 3rd August 2004. The initiative is managed by the Kuruvila Jacob Memorial Educational Trust comprising the following old students of Mr. Jacob, all of them students of Madras Christian College High School as trustees.

Mr. S. Viji, Managing Director, Brakes India Ltd.; Chairman, Sundaram Finance Ltd.
Mr K. M. Mammen, Chairman and Managing Director, MRF Ltd.
Mr N Ram-Editor-in- Chief,’The Hindu’
Mr. N. Sankar, Chairman, Sanmar Group
Mr. V. K. Chandra Kumar, Chairman, Sterling Insurance Services
Mr. I. Jairaj, Director, TVS Dynamic Global Freight Services

The Trust is assisted by a Core Committee comprising Mr. S. Viji as the convener; Mr. K. M. Mammen and Mr. N. Murali as the co-conveners; and Mr. V. K. Chandra Kumar, Mr. Govind Raghavan, Mr. I. Jairaj, Mr. P. T. Krishnan, Mr. N. Kumar, Mr. N. Ram, Mrs Rebekah Mani , Mr. N. Sankar , Mr. G. Shanker, Mr. V. Subramanian, Mr. Somi Hazari , Mr.V J Raghunath and Mr. N .Ravi, Mr. T.T. Srinivasaraghavan ,Mr Arun Mammen and Mr. Arvind Datar as members. This committee reviews the activities of the Initiative once a month. The Initiative has been made possible by the generous financial contributions received from the old students of Mr. Jacob at Madras Christian College School, Chennai, Hyderabad Public School and Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai.

Primary Objectives of the Kuruvila Jacob Initiative

  • Act as a catalyst, aiding schools to adopt innovative methods and techniques in the learning process

  • Encourage schools to adopt a more holistic concept of education, strive for excellence in academics, and instil a strong value system and develop a well-rounded personality in the students

  • Encourage sharing of ‘best practices’ amongst the schools participating in the initiative

  • Enhance the satisfaction levels of all constituents and beneficiaries of the school education process

  • Obtain a significant improvement in the strategic and operational performance of schools

  • Support and/or conduct programmes/courses to develop leadership skills and qualities amongst the academic faculty

  • Train the schools to learn and use TQM (Total Quality Management) methodologies and tools to attain the above

Mr. S. Viji welcoming the heads of schools  
Dr Anandakrishnan addressing the gathering

Private Schools Cluster

Section of the audience

Phase - I

A programme spread over a period of 20 months was launched on 30th October 2004 and was conducted applying the model for education excellence developed by CII-Institute of Quality (CII-IQ), Bangalore, based on a study of internationally recognized educational and management models. It was designed to improve the effectiveness and performance of heads and senior teachers of schools in Chennai, by applying the TQM concepts, suitably modified for education.

This project included orientation, awareness and training programmes and cluster meetings to facilitate sharing of best practices amongst the schools. Applying the concepts and criteria, a questionnaire was sent to all the participating schools and based on the replies received an appraisal and gap assessment was carried out. The feedback was sent to each school confidentially to enable it to initiate action necessary to enhance the quality of education in their school.

The first phase of the project concluded with the schools identifying certain areas for improvement and putting down an action plan to address the gaps. Twenty-four Chennai city schools from all streams of education joined in the initiative during the first phase.

Phase II (Post assessment programme)
Ten schools were part of the post-assessment programme. The programme focused on process improvement in schools specifically in the fields of administration, resource management, knowledge management, staff recruitment, training and appraisal. It also adopted cluster approach along with training and awareness programmes and counselling visits.

School excellence clusters –Corporation Schools

The schools in these clusters are affiliated to Tamilnadu board but geographically located in Chennai city only. To make a difference in the State run schools, the trust initiated its TQM programme with 9 schools managed by Corporation of Chennai on June 5, 2005 in Chennai .Some of the objectives set for these schools were: to develop stakeholder participation, to encourage schools adopt holistic concept of education, to improve school performance and to help cluster member schools to achieve their objective with process approach.

Encouraged by the positive results of the first cluster two more clusters were initiated by the Trust on 29th of July 2006 and 25th of August 2008. Each cluster consists of 10 Chennai City Corporation schools involving 30 senior teachers including 10 headmasters. The cluster schools are working for higher goals and show improvement in their performance. The main focus area chosen by the Corporation schools cluster was Result Improvement. They have also undergone training in TQM and 5S. The Kuruvila Jacob Initiative also assists the cluster schools in process improvement.

In addition to individual counselling at the respective campuses, the counsellor who is in-charge of the cluster facilitates cluster meetings, conducted periodically (usually once a month), to encourage sharing amongst the participating institutions. The principal and two teachers attend all training programmes, thereby remaining in constant touch with the counsellor. These school resource persons (SRPs), transfer the learning to the whole school to seek involvement of all in the school for effective implementation and improvement in results – the approach promotes the participation of the school, parents and society to work together to meet the changing demands of all the stakeholders. The objectives of the training sessions are to help institutions understand and imbibe the concepts of quality and its applicability in the education sector.

Model School Programme on QCI Framework

As per the request of the Corporation of Chennai, the Initiative launched a programme on 17th November 2008 for providing training Support for Chennai City Schools run by Corporation of Chennai for accreditation by Quality Council of India based on Quality School Governance Frame work . This accreditation standard aims at providing a framework for the effective management and delivery of a holistic education programme for overall development of students. It also encourages schools to pursue continual excellence.

All the Corporation school programmes have been conducted on a free-of-cost basis by the Trust with training assistance from CII-IQ, Bangalore. Support from the Corporation Officials right from the very top helped in sustaining the programmes

Education Leadership Programme

In the age of globalization where technology is shrinking the world, the task of preparing future generations is tremendously complex and challenging. The school system continues to be the agency that has a major share of this responsibility. However, it is found that people in charge of these systems are often not even equipped with the existing knowledge and skills that can make them effective in the 21st century.

Keeping this in mind a training programme for Education Leadership (ELP), one of the key areas for improvement identified by the schools based on their self-assessment, was launched in October 2006. This is a one-year, open-learning post-graduate diploma course developed by the Centre for Education and Management Development (CEMD), New Delhi, and is conducted by Spirit of Leadership(SOL), New Delhi through an interactive, participatory and experiential learning process. This unique programme, based on studies of similar courses conducted at the University of Washington and Harvard University, USA, has been customized to suit the context of Indian schools.

The ELP aims to provide the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for school principals and administrators to shape the future of schools and their students. The main objectives of ELP are to facilitate change by developing leaders and institutions and provide effective and empowering leadership. The sessions are based on experiential learning principles and the consensus-seeking model based on constructivist pedagogy. The programme is conducted in three sessions spread over a period of 10 months. In the past eleven years in eight batches, 312 participants consisting of principals and correspondents have benefited by ELP. The participants who have completed the assignments and portfolio are awarded post-graduate diploma certificates at the annual function on the 3rd of August every year

The Ninth batch is on and the trust would start the Tenth Batch of Education Leadership Programme on 25th of April 2017 [Brochure 2017 -'18].

Project on Multimedia – Enhanced Elementary Science

One of the objectives in launching the Kuruvila Jacob initiative is to act as a catalyst, aiding schools to adopt innovative methods and techniques in the learning process. Keeping this in mind, and to promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills of students from class VI to class VIII, especially in Physics and Chemistry, the Initiative commenced a project in February 2007 curated by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, on Innovation in Teaching Methodology with Access to Web-Based Learning. IIT provided the cognitive, interactive and the software/human resource assistance to teachers from schools under the Kuruvila Jacob Initiative for developing web-based content in Chemistry and Physics.

Eighty faculty members from 20 Chennai city schools were part of this project to help develop curriculum-based interactive learning modules for children in standards six to eight. The modules developed cater to CBSE, ICSE and Tamil Nadu State Board streams of education.

The Web and DVD ROMs of the modules in Physics and Chemistry were released at IIT Madras on September 8' 2010 by Mr.Vineet Joshi IAS, Chairman,Central Board of Secondary Education and are freely downloadable in the public domain at http://kji.iitm.ac.in for the schools.

A Class Apart

With a view to moving on to new initiatives, in October 2011, after considerable deliberations and evaluation of suggestions from eminent educationists, the Kuruvila Jacob Initiative embarked on another project - 'A Class Apart'. This is a Skill development and Competency Enhancement Programme for pre-primary and primary class teachers who work in regular schools to identify and guide children with learning difficulties which include specific learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, emotional disturbances , autism spectrum , slow learning etc. This programme is designed to help teachers keep up-to-date with current thinking in pedagogy, to reinforce the teachers' confidence in their career choices and to make them more aware and knowledgeable about the nuances of early childhood education and become completely available to the children in the classroom.

KJI is partnered in this project with V-Excel Educational Trust, an NGO who has been in the field of Special Education for about a decade. This is a programme which is spread over an academic year with three sessions of three-day duration each comprising the theoretical and practical aspects of inclusive education. At the end of three sessions, the teacher is expected to have a better understanding of child development and of much of the underlying learning processes. The ultimate objective is to ensure inclusion of every child in the curriculum, to foster conviction, courage, and creativity in every child and to have a deeper and profound understanding of a teacher's role in a child's life.

This course is designed for Principals, heads, coordinators and teachers of primary and kindergarten schools across all boards. This programme is also highly subsidized by the Kuruvila Jacob Initiative. The Ninth batch is currently on.

Environment Education

In the face of rapid global environmental change, solutions to environment and development issues require new models and approaches in meeting the needs of learners. To help schools in this aspect, a new initiative in Environment Education For schools was launched in July 2012 in partnership with Chennai based Care Earth Trust, a technical NGO with the mission of conserving biodiversity.

This project to mainstream Ecology and Environment into School Curriculum and Pedagogy is for middle and high school teachers and focuses on facilitating the practice of ecology and environment within the existing school curriculum and pedagogy framework. A resource manual for teachers on Biodiversity Conservation titled 'Green Guru' was released in November '13. This programme is also be subsidized by Kuruvila Jacob. The second batch is currently on with 34 teachers of Middle and High School.

English Evolution Course

With the objective of enhancing all aspects of English language teaching, namely, speaking, listening, reading and writing as well as English grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. a training programme named 'English Evolution Course' for teachers was launched in August 2014. in partnership with British Council, the United Kingdom's international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.

This professional development programme is for 42 hours spread over 11 weeks .For the maximum benefit to accrue to the teachers and to ensure individual attention, the class size is restricted to 23 teachers. The methodology used by British Council is expected to help the candidates improve their English skills in the areas mentioned and help them use the English language in a better manner in their classes at school to teach their subjects. This is a closed group session consisting of only Kuruvila Jacob Initiative sponsored candidates and a course completion certificate is given on successful completion of the programme.

Prior to the commencement of the training programme, the candidates participate in a needs assessment session to enable British Council to formulate the content of the programme for each batch accordingly. This training programme is meant not only for teachers of English Language but also for teachers of other subjects who use English as a medium to teach, preferably from Grade III to Grade XII. The fifth batch is on.

I can make a difference

I can make a difference is a facilitated journey that enables teachers relook at their role afresh and helps them explore their experience and wisdom. It is an effort to help them move from the feeling of "I am just a teacher" to "I am a teacher", and not just say it, but say and feel it with pride. It culminates in the rediscovery of their mission and a renewed commitment to their purpose as professionals whose work makes a big difference and impacts future generations.

The seeds teachers sow when children are young helps them grow into huge trees that are totally unique. To sustain and grow the capacity of teachers to accomplish this mission, they need the opportunity to periodically regenerate their zeal and commitment. I can make a difference is a highly experiential program designed for middle and high school teachers. The methodology used in this program is a combination of workshops, action learning projects and follow-up discussions to help teachers reach deep in to their experience, reflect on their journey and reinforce their personal and professional mission. This programme was launched in September 2014 and the fourth batch is on. Strides Consulting Inc., Chennai is the resource partner for this programme.

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