By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | November 26, 2019

Don Bosco International School, Matunga, Mumbai, started in the year 2014, five years down the line, they have built a happy community of students, teachers, ancillary staff and parents. At DBIS, it is the core values that matter and that is what has made this school a sought-after International School; apart from the fact that it is a Don Bosco Institution known for its education for over 100 years in 131 countries.

And as the first batch of IGCSE students (Grade X) gear up for their final exam, parents have heaved a sigh of relief as DBIS has introduced the The International Baccalaureate  Diploma Programme (IBDP) for the Academic Year starting 2020-21. “DBIS has been through several rounds of authorization process by auditors from India as well as overseas. Every time, they have visited us, they have felt an endearing quality which they haven’t at other places and this is the Happiness Quotient of our staff and students at DBIS,” says Meena Saldanha, Principal who has been with the school since 2017.

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“At DBIS, we are driven by passion for education and development of the child,” says Meena Saldanha, Principal

Education apart, the sheer volume of open playgrounds (over 16,000 sq metres), is a delight for any student or parent. “With Fr. Crispino D’Souza (a sports enthusiast and a die-hard basketball addict), as Director, and former Hockey International Edgar Mascarenhas as Sports Director, the enthusiasm and participation in sports has reached a different level, where every student wants to pursue a sport of their choice,” beams Saldanha adding, “Just last Friday, we had a Sports Day with a difference and this time, every student played Football, Handball, Hockey, Cricket, Throwball and Basketball on the Sports Day after which they participated in Athletics!”

Opening Doorz met up with Meena Saldanha to understand the growth at DBIS in five years and the way forward for this school that is shining on the IB map in Mumbai, India.

Excerpts:

How did the IBDP programme come about?
Don Bosco International School (DBIS) started with the promise to parents that the International School will be up to Grade XII. After studying the various programmes offered for higher secondary, we felt that the IBDP Program was the ideal programme which prepared students for the skill sets that are needed in the 21st century. Our founder, Don Bosco has said, “Education is a matter of the heart,” and we at DBIS want our students to become innovative, compassionate and responsible citizens of the world.

It would not have been easy to gear up so fast (in just five years) to reach where you have. How did the school manage this?
At DBIS, we are driven by passion for education and development of the child. In its nascent stage, we began with a modest number of 100 students from Grades Jr. Kg to Grade II in the year 2014-15. The second year boasted a 100 per cent increase in admissions and had 200 students up till Grade V. The Middle school with Grades VI and VII commenced in the third year and the school strength shot to 350 students, which was a remarkable growth. The school has been very clear from the inception and has maintained the class strength of 24 with two divisions per grade. We now have a strength of 557 students and we will be having our first batch of students passing their IGCSE exam this year.

Five years on, a 100 per cent increase in the next year, how do you maintain the balance considering there’s a huge rush for admissions at DBIS?
It’s a common sight to see toddlers on the turf doing a physical tune-up before classroom every morning. The combination of physical, emotional and academic activity under one roof leads to the overall development of the child. The philosophy of the child-centric institution in having fewer students per classroom has limited the intake to only 48 students in the Junior KG section. DBIS is faced with an unpleasant task of denying over 200 students a place in their choice of schooling.

What programs has the school introduced keeping in mind the IB and IGCSE, guidelines?
DBIS has followed a century-old teaching formula handed down by Don Bosco. With advances in technology, the skill sets covered under IQ & SQ were placed under specialised heads of, ‘Thinking’, ‘Communication’, ‘Research’, ‘Social’ and ‘Self Management Skills’. Specially trained teachers have been entrusted to impart these essential skills of a Global School offering IB and IGCSE programs. However, Don Bosco’s philosophy is beyond mere IQ and SQ; children are imparted AQ (Adversity Quotient), the resilience factor, which is a key to survive in a highly demanding pressure cooker world.  The AQ is through sports, headed by Edgar Mascarenhas—along with his team, he ensures students try out six different before they decide on their choice of sport.

We also have a well structured CAS programme which involves Creativity, Activity and Service. We have adopted a village school in Palghar, Maharashtra, which our students regularly visit and do their community service. Here, they teach the children conversational English speaking skills and in return, we learn basket-making, warli painting etc.

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The first step that Fr. Crispino D’Souza, Director, took was to have former Hockey International Edgar Mascarenhas take up the reins as Sports Director

In the last three years, DBIS and its students boast of a different body language when it comes to sports. In fact, we hear the children are more on the field than in the classrooms?
[Laughs] Yes, that is true. But that is not to say that they do not excel in studies. DBIS is blessed with access to more than 16,000 sq metres of green top, a dream for any sports enthusiast. In keeping with the philosophy of physical development of the child along with academics, every child has to compulsorily partake in an hour-long sports activity everyday at school. For a fledgling school, many long-established institutions have realised that they have met their mettle in the field. DBIS has won accolades and the sports shelves are filling up with Champions and Runners-up Trophies in team sports while picking up gold, silver and bronze in individual events at the Regional and National level.

Coming back to the IBDP which starts from the coming year, what’s the road map looking like?
It is our belief, to start small and give our students individualised/personal attention to ensure they have access to the best teachers and resources for realising their academic aspirations. State-of-the-art labs are in place, apart from a Study Lounge, to create a comfortable learning zone. We have decided to limit the number of students to 20 for the first year.

Considering students who enrol for IDBP Programme have their eyes set for an education abroad post Grade XII, will DBIS also be helping the students choose a college abroad?
We have employed a full time, experienced career and college counsellor. The students will be provided guidance in mapping their careers as well as how to secure admissions in colleges of their choice.

Also Read: Teaching love and compassion through example at DBIS!

 

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