By Hassan Cheruppa
IT was an incredible day for more than 2,000 Indian teenagers pursuing secondary school education in Jeddah and the neighboring cities. It was also a day of great excitement for a host of internationally acclaimed trainers and educators who came all the way to the city to enlighten the students when they saw the mammoth gathering of extremely enthusiastic students.
The children turned out in large numbers full of dreams and curiosity and elegantly took away the mantras of success. The 10-hour festival of knowledge at the International Indian School Jeddah (IISJ) on May 13 gave them tips for conquering their uphill career goals and infused in them a high degree of confidence in chasing their dreams. The occasion was the first-ever education and career exhibition (Educafe) organized by the Gulf Madhyamam newspaper in the Kingdom.
The huge turnout of participants, flawless arrangements and the meticulous management were the hallmarks of the festival. The beeline in front of the registration counters demonstrated the zeal and enthusiasm on the part of boys and girls from almost all Indian schools in Jeddah and the neighboring cities. The trainers were amazed by the huge number of attendees and their tremendous reactions during the interactive sessions.
Speaking to Saudi Gazette, prominent academics, trainers and students called the festival a lifetime academic experience that presented solutions to many a puzzle in the life of students. The Educafe brought to Jeddah a fiesta of knowledge and entertainment based on life skills and real life experiences, they said.
“It was a superb program par excellence as children were getting exposed to such a huge platform for the first time in the Kingdom. The festival gave the attendees insights into deeper learning and thinking and helped them acquire life skills beyond the traditional classroom learning,” said Sreedevi V. Menon, principal of Jeddah’s Al-Wurood International School for Girls, while giving a big hats-off to the organizers.
Menon, the main speaker at the parallel session on “Challenging gender roles”, came to attend the event along with 300 students from her school.
Syed Masood Ahmed, principal of the host school, said the Educafe was a fantastic educational and entertainment program hosted for the first time in the history of IISJ. “It was a highly motivating event catering to the acclaimed goals of education. The festival, which covered all aspects of academic life, was very much effective and useful for students who learned a lot and enjoyed so much,” he said, while appreciating Gulf Madhyamam for organizing such a great event.
L. Ramnarayan Iyer, executive editor of Saudi Gazette, who led the parallel session on media, said that he felt it was a very informative initiative but urged the organizers to streamline the sessions, avoiding overlaps of main and parallel sessions, either by cutting the number of sessions or making it a two-day event giving separate time slots for the educative and counseling sessions.
Hamza Abbas, veteran journalist and chief editor of Gulf Madhaymam, won accolades from the delegates for his visionary ideas in organizing the event. “It’s part of his newspaper’s social responsibility to play a key role in the transformation of society for the better. We have the full conviction that this will be possible only through giving the children the best education with a focus on values and life skills,” Abbas said while welcoming the gathering
He said the fruits of such education would benefit not only the students, but also their parents, society, the nation and the world as a whole.
Students said in unison that the festival gave them a new direction in their studies and a novel approach to life with enhanced awareness to acquire life skills. They said the motivation classes were highly inspiring and there were no elements of boredom at all.
They thanked Gulf Madhyamam for opening in front of them new horizons of knowledge and life skills. They said it infused in them a high level of confidence and allayed examination fear, in addition to teaching them novel methods to achieve excellence in their education and success in their future career.
The delegates gave full marks to a highly inspiring session by eminent educationist A.P.M. Mohammed Haneesh, who received a wide round of applause. In the session titled “Go beyond with Mohammed Haneesh”, he emphasized the vital point that life is the great educator and that knowledge from textbooks is not enough for success in life. “You need a positive approach toward life and a high degree of confidence to counter potential challenges. Apart from cherishing dreams, there should be relentless and untiring efforts to realize them,” Haneesh said.
“Don’t feel frustrated over failures but make it as a fuel to grab success with undying will power and hard work. You have to learn a lot from life’s experiences beyond the borders of school campuses.”
Haneesh lamented the current education system, which is defective for want of life skills training. “You acquire knowledge of basic subjects from school but you are not being taught the purpose of life and ways to counter challenges and address problems in real life. The achiever in life is the one who strive to realize his dreams by upholding basic tenets such as hard work, dedication, truthfulness, sincerity and positive thinking,” he said while urging the children to empathize with victims who suffer because of the harsh realities of life around them.
Sayid Sultan Ahmed, renowned trainer from Bangalore, captivated the attendees with his distinct way of presentation. While delivering “How to select a career for better future,” Sultan emphasized that it was very important to see dreams but choosing the right career was much more important.
“Today, you learn mathematics, physics and chemistry but not being taught creativity, leadership skills, humanity and collective thinking and working,” he said while stressing that the current educational system should be revamped in a way fitting to all times.
“You can score victory only if you shed selfishness and try to see and learn the world around you with feelings of compassion, empathy and collective responsibility,” he said. He told the students that eyes and ears “shall be their great teachers and that they have to learn lessons from mistakes”.
Addressing the session on “Infuse youth behavioral changes in teenagers”, Dr. Jason Fitzsimmons, an international career expert from Australia, underscored the need for ensuring a balance between job and life while choosing a career. “Within the past 10 years, several jobs have disappeared and new jobs emerged and this process will be repeated in future too. And hence, you choose what job you like after effective thinking and decision making as job satisfaction is more important while choosing any career,” he said.
In his presentation on “Learn to Learn”, well-known Saudi trainer M.M. Irshad shared with the audience tips for having a better learning experience. “The basics of learning are consistent training, dedication, and interest in the subject. Better planning, proper dieting, taking care of health and time management are also important,” he said while underlining the need for developing one’s own style of learning.
He advised teachers and parents to understand the intellectual level of each child and not to impose on them what they cannot bear.
The festival came to a close with a mind-boggling show by celebrity mentalist Aathi Adarsh. The theme was “Insomnia: A powerful mindreading technique.”
He mesmerized the participants by presenting divergent mindreading techniques in a superb way. The audience welcomed his show with a standing ovation and reverberating cries of Aathi… Aathi, as he captivated them with an exploit of the “Psychology of deception”. He blended psychology, hypnosis, magic, misdirection and showmanship through microscopic and flawless mindreading with simply looking into the eyes of individuals.
The festival also saw several parallel sessions on a host of subjects such as media, all about entrance, know your aptitude, challenging gender roles, how to become an entrepreneur, career counseling, psychological counseling, and parenting.
Upbeat over the success of the festival, Rashid Khan, marketing manager of Gulf Madhyamam KSA, unveiled plans to hold similar events in Riyadh and Dammam in the near future. “We will do follow-up work by holding micro programs at regular intervals apart from organizing the festival on an annual basis.”
He thanked the IISJ authorities and Thanima volunteers for making the event a resounding success. There were 25 women among 100 volunteers who made several days of hard work to make necessary arrangements at the main auditorium, another hall and a huge air-conditioned tent that was erected on the school grounds.
There was also a special clinic opened by Jeddah National Hospital to provide free medical checkups, in addition to stalls of educational institutions and the event sponsors.