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Rose Blazes A Trail at College

Rose Blazes A Trail at College
Rishikul Sanatan College Principal Rose Sharma (front-middle) with her teachers and staff in school on August 23, 2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar.
August 24
11:29 2018

Rose Sharma is creating history at Rishikul Sanatan College at Valelevu, Nasinu, for two reasons.

First, she is the college’s first woman principal.

Second, she is the first person promoted to the post under the Open Merit Recruitment System (OMRS) implemented by the Government in August 2016.

Speaking about her appointment to the Fiji Sun yesterday, Mrs Sharma praised the OMRS, but added that it was important now to set plans and policies in place to ensure the stability and viability of the school and the education system.

She believes it is important to have somebody at the helm who has the vision to look out and say; “Ok in these few years I’m going to change the school, I am going to change this and I am going to bring in new things.

“This is how it is going to benefit the students, because the aim of everything is eventually the students,” Mrs Sharma said.

“The students should be the focus, they should be the ones benefitting from everything. That’s what I always believe in.”

OMRS

Mrs Sharma said going through the OMRS process has been an enlightening experience, something that was new but something that looked at change.

“I believe going through the OMRS system has helped me to look at a broader picture in terms of becoming a leader of a very large secondary school,” she said.

“People who do not go through the process maybe do not understand the process well, maybe they have lots of doubts and hold back because they don’t know what the process is about or they think the process is not good.

“So there has been a lot of talk and different opinions about OMRS, but once you go through the process then you see how fair it is.

“Everybody gets an equal opportunity to attend and attempt the same thing, they go through the same process and there is no bias in the process.

“You are duly selected on what you can go out and do, what best you can give to the school, to the teachers, to the staff, the students and community.

“I believe it is more about marketing your ability, your experience, your techniques and going out and putting that down and getting things done. People may talk, but you can’t say much because once people go through the process then you see the fairness of it.”

Mrs Sharma said she had applied in January, 2018 and was promoted in May after a series of tests and interviews.

Female principal

She is the first female principal for Rishikul Sanatan College since its establishment in 1964.

“I can say I am proud to be the first female principal. It is time for a change,” she said.

“I believe a lot of women empowerment has been going on, lots of talk about women empowerment, women being equal and getting the right recognition, I think it is the right time now.

“I am proud and in fact when I started my teaching career, my bigger aim was to become a principal.

“I had always told everyone that one day if I have to retire, I wouldn’t want to retire as an assistant teacher, I want to retire as a principal because I know I have that much in me to give to the community, to the school to the students.

“I love the classroom and school environment.

“I love being surrounded by students and looking at their daily challenges that are there in the school system. It is quite a good experience, challenging and every day has its new challenge, every day is different.”

In 2012, she was an education officer at the Ministry of Education headquarters in Suva, but after one year she requested to go back to the school system because she missed it so much.

She said for the first three months as the principal, it has been a good experience, especially learning the school culture.

Rishikul Sanatan College

Asked about her plans for the school and how she planned to manage the institution, Mrs Sharma said she instituted an open-door policy.

“I understand when the teachers have their grievance, but I will never decide alone,” she said.

“I’ve always consulted my other two admins, my heads of departments and teachers in terms of things to be implemented. Before anything needs to be done, I believe we need to get the manpower to do it.

“I don’t believe in walking in front and having followers, I would want us to walk together in one straight line.

“So I told my teachers, if you fall behind, I will come back and pick you up and we will walk together, even when I address my Year 13 students, I’ve always told them, if I find any of you lagging behind I will come, hold your hand and we’ll move with you slowly even if it means we are crawling. I will crawl with you just to make sure we go over the finish line.

“I don’t just sit here and make decisions, because I know it will filter down to the students. They will be the ones who will be implementing it. I won’t do the implementing, I will just say it and monitor.

“They are the ones who will process it. So it’s best they know what is right, they make a decision and consultation is the best way.

The school has a roll of 1027 students with 63 teachers.

Plans for the school

Mrs Sharma said at the moment she was trying to look at raising the level of academic achievement at the school.

Last year the school did well overall in the Central Division with a 93 per cent pass for Year 13 and Year 12.

She is also working on making sure her staff members are more collaborative and receptive to the students’ needs to ensure that the teaching and learning programme that was given to then by the Ministry of Education was fully implemented and the students are fully benefitting from it.

She said there was also a need for a few more classrooms to be built looking at the demand, adding that everything was turning out well, the management being very approachable, very acceptable and receptive to the changes being implemented and the staff were supportive and co-operative.

Advice to upcoming teachers

“You need to be passionate for the work you do,” Mrs Sharma said.

“If you are passionate, committed and dedicated, you will get things right but if there is no passion, if you are just an 8am to 4pm teacher and only looking at the pay pack then you are not fully doing the work.”

Mrs Kumar was the vice principal of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial School (MGM) before her promotion at Rishikul Sanatan College.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback:  selita.bolanavanua@fijisun.com.fj

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