In a world where education is increasingly becoming a money-churning business, there are only a handful of schools left, which really believe in the holistic development of our youth. One of them is a school run in the interiors of Assam in Jorhat, called Springdale High School by human rights activist Shahnaz Ahmed. While Ahmed has been working towards improving the quality of education and bringing equality in her land for close to 30 years, it is only now that Forbes India featured her in a list of globally recognized Indian Business Leaders. With this, she has become the first person ever from the North-East to get featured in a Forbes list.

“I am very happy and extremely honoured to get this recognition. It is such a big platform and the fact that they have acknowledged my work in this field patiently and with lots of dedication. I accept this with all modesty,” Ahmed told SheThePeople.TV.

The Idea behind the school

Ahmed’s idea is to shun the traditional ways of educating our children and enhancing their knowledge beyond bookish learning. Before starting Springdale, Ahmed served as the National President of Country Women Association of India (CWAI) for three consecutive terms of 10 years each.

Talking about her journey and what made her start the school, she said, “I was about 32-33 when I started the school and I thought of starting a school because I come from an academic background as both my parents have been professors. So I always felt motivated to give quality education to children because the younger generation is the next leaders of our country. Education should not be any kind of business and should be taught with one’s heart and soul and only then can we bring up full-fledged and accomplished students.

I want them to become job-creators more than job seekers and that’s my main motive to give the kind of rounded education. I don’t go by set curriculum and design it myself along with a set of teachers who are trained by me.”

On being an Entrepreneur

Ahmed always had the entrepreneurial knack so talking about the difference in opportunities in her time and now, she recounts, “Earlier we did not have opportunities through the internet and the digital change that has come now. So whatever we had to do, we had to go out and explore but in the North-East, the culture here is a bit different from the rest of the country. While it is not completely feminist, it is also not patriarchal. So even then we had the power to choose and to do whatever we wanted to do.”

Shahnaz Ahmed
Shahnaz Ahmed

She added, “Today it is difficult to gauge how goal-oriented children are as they are more inclined to get a big job only for the money they get, but our vision was very different. We had a mission and my mission was that I wanted to do something that could help the society.”

Younger children also have their set of issues and we must validate them. These problems occur because we are not expanding their mindset, we only look at their IQ but I also look at their emotional quotient.

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In her school, Ahmed ensures that she knows all the children personally. She interacts with their parents regularly to know their contention and relationship with the child. “Younger children also have their set of issues and we must validate them. These problems occur because we are not expanding their mindset, we only look at their IQ but I also look at their emotional quotient,” Ahmed pointed.

Women In The North-East

She also believes that North-East is a very forward-looking place for women and young girls. “Since we don’t have social evils that hamper a woman’s growth like dowry, our girls have a lot of opportunities to improve and grow. We, the people of North-East, believe in women’s education and that it empowers us. But there are challenges like girls must marry when they come of age but even then we have a lot of support for education and quality of life,” the educationist added.

Picture credit- Shahnaz Ahmed

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