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“Online learning can never compete with the school environment”

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Exclusive interview with St Joseph’s ICSE Topper, Ashok Bhatt

By SIMRAN KKAPOOR 

You’ve scored 98.4%, how does it feel like? How is your family celebrating it?

I would be lying if I say that the feeling of euphoria isn’t overshadowing all others. I think I have received much more than my fair share of blessings and good luck and I am thankful to everyone who has played even the smallest part in my life.
Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, my family and I celebrated the result with the traditional delicacies of home-made cuisines.

How did you prepare for your ICSE board exams?

For me, making my own notes, self study and consistency was the mantra. Although I started my thorough preparation a bit late owing to ECAs, by December I finished almost everything and then started with mocks on a daily basis. This regular practice proved extremely helpful for me in the boards.

Whom would like to give credit for your success?

My entire family, schoolmates, teachers and the school, St Joseph’s Academy, must be mentioned here which have, throughout my journey, been my pillars of support, guidance and source of undiminished strength.

Apart from academic excellence, how has your participation been in extracurricular activities?

I am a National Level English and Hindi debater, a finalist in the National Finals of the Frank Anthony Memorial All-India Debate and the Best Interlocuter and Winner of the Madam Linell All-India Debate. In addition to this, I also like quizzing and participating in MUNs.

The Post-Covid world would demand a different education system. Do you think online education would fulfill the holistic development of the students?

The school is the Temple of Learning and online education can never compete with the environment for learning the former provides. Children from poor families who depend on schools for their mid-day meals are undoubtedly facing the consequences. Moreover, poverty, low internet connectivity as evident in the North-Eastern states and the relatively less equipped African nations are the main impediments to the rise of online education. But, at the same time, I would say that ‘desperate times require desperate measures’.

What suggestions would you want to give to the state on students’ welfare?

The way countries like Peru have handled the concept of online learning with its programme, ‘Aprendo En Casa’ (I Learn From Home), is commendable. In times of a health crisis when online learning is the norm, providing all underprivileged students with electronic devices and maintenance of good internet connectivity is of utmost importance. Introducing Ethics as a mandatory subject, setting up satellite campuses of foreign universities like in Qatar and improvement in the ‘one-size-fits-all-education-system’ is the need of the hour. As the former CJI recently said, “Education is more than just a right.”

What kept you inspired throughout the process?

My elder brother, my parents and my teachers were the source of inspiration for me. But, broadly speaking, my inspirations change on a diurnal basis, for eg – you have been my inspiration for this session today.

What suggestions would you want to give the students preparing for exams during the lockdown?

Studying with utmost concentration (even though for limited hours), making your own notes, writing the best answers by referring to a number of books and practicing every subject is the key to success. English Language must be worked excessively upon. Working according to one’s own suitability, punctuality and dedication apart from a sizeable amount of fun in between is paramount.

What are your future plans?

After completing my graduation, my aim is to become an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer and to serve my nation.