By Mudassir Raja
Neerja Birla, Founder and Chairperson of Aditya Birla Education Trust, India, is very keen to work with the government of Qatar and start a mental health facility in Qatar. She hopes the facility will be open very soon to cater to the needs of people facing mental health issues.
This was stated by Neerja during a recent press meet at Birla Public School, where she inaugurated a pioneering conclave titled ‘Lead the Way’ for educators. The conclave was organised by the school and was attended by over 100 educators from different educational institutes across Qatar.
In response to a question about the idea of mental health facility in Qatar, she said: “Regarding the mental health facility, yes, I am very keen to open our centre here. I run an initiative ‘Mpower’ in India. It is basically to alleviate and remove the stigma around mental health and its concerns. It is a global epidemic that we are dealing with. I had very good meeting [here in this regard]. This is something that we definitely want to explore.”
About her first visit to Qatar, she said: “I have come to the school to be a part of the conclave where we had educators coming together, a platform to discuss what are different education practices. We are running an academy called Aditya Birla Education Academy, which is offering courses for the teachers. We are educating the educators. In the changing times, the needs of the learners are changing. How do we help the teachers to brace up the new changing scenario? This kind of courses, we are offering in our academy. We are here to talk about and promote that.”
When asked about need for training the teachers who teach students with mental health issues, Neerja said: “We run many workshops which can help teacher, parents, and care-givers to actually recognise that what could be the symptoms of mental health concerns and how you deal with them efficiently and in a right manner. What are the things that you should or should not be saying? How do you direct them to take the right professional help? So, we do already have different programmes in India that actually train the people to be the first point of contact. We have something called mental health first aide, just the way you have physical health first aide. So you can recognise what the red flags and symptoms are and what you are supposed to do. We also have workshops on parenting, emotional trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide prevention and drug abuse. We carry out different activities to create awareness and to foster education also.”
Earlier, addressing the conclave, Neerja said: “I truly believe that teachers are a special tribe, blessed with the great power and responsibilities to not only shape the minds but also to ignite the spirit. Good teachers influence education of their students. Great teachers influence the future of generations to come.”
Neerja Birla is also the chairperson of Aditya Birla World Academy, Aditya Birla Integrated School, Aditya Birla Education Academy and ‘Mpower’.
The conclave was a wholesome platform for all important stakeholders in education to discuss current technological and pedagogical trends in the education sector.
Lukose Chacko, Chairman of Birla Public School, delivered the welcome speech.
R K Dalmia, President of Century Textiles and Industrial Limited, Mumbai; P Kumaran, ambassador of India to Qatar; and senior governing council members of BPC also addressed the assembly, delineating new principles and ideologies in modern teaching.
Gope Shahani, Vice Chairman BPS; Dr Mohan Thomas, C V Rappai and Maria Pakalomattom, BPS directors; also graced the occasion. Principals from different schools and colleges were the distinguished panellists of the discussion on ‘Technology and the teacher.’
As the moderator, A P Sharma, BPS Principal, lead the team of panellists. Dr Ravinder Mamtani, Professor of Medicine (Centre for Global Health) and Senior Associate Dean for Population Health and Capacity Building, at Weill Cornell Medicine; Dr Alexander S. Acosta, Principal of Philippine School Doha; Manjari Recriwal, Principal of Pearl School Doha; Dr Subhash B. Nair, Principal of Shantiniketan Indian School, Doha; and Ankur Gopal Miglani, Governor of Board of Governors Doha College; were the panelists, who enlightened the educators. They concluded that the teachers cannot be replaced by technology but they need to use technology to stimulate their students.
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