On completion of a successful five-year term, Ashok Kalra has stepped-down as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Indian Community School Kuwait (ICSK). Here, he speaks about his years on the School’s honorary Board, first as vice-chairman and for the last five years as chairman of the Board of Trustees.
“When I joined the Board, around 15 years back, the school was facing severe financial and administrative challenges that made even day-to-ay operations difficult. However, through sincere cooperation and collaboration of the Indian community and the newly constituted School Board, including the late Abhay Mehta, Dr. Johhny, Rajan Daniel and many others, the school was able to gradually recover and regain its luster as the school of choice for Indian students in Kuwait.
Today, ICSK is not only the oldest and among the largest Indian educational institution in the Middle-East, it is also one of the best schools in Kuwait when it comes to excellence in academic and in co-curricular activities.
The school’s success over the years has been a collective effort on the part of everyone involved, students, faculty, parents, community and management. In this context I must add that the school’s sponsor, Essa Abdul Rahman Al Essa, has always extended his steadfast support and unwavering commitment to the growth and development of ICSK. His cooperative attitude and subtle guidance to the Board has ensured the best outcome for the school.
The school has also always had the support and assistance of everyone at the Department of Private Education of the Ministry of Education. I would like to express my gratitude especially to Abdulla Al Busri, the present Director of Private Education, and his predecessor Mohammad Al-Dahes who have extended their utmost cooperation to ICSK. Last year, through their personal intervention, the school became the first private educational institute to receive permission to hold afternoon shifts to accommodate the increasing student strength.
In the last five years, through the combined efforts of the Board, Community Elders, the Parents Advisory Council, the Alumni Association and, most importantly, through the dedication and diligence of the principals and teachers, the school has grown to whole new heights.
Today, the school has four well-equipped campuses with state-of-the-art laboratories and libraries, a faculty of over 450 and student strength of more than 6,700. In the last few years, ICSK has consistently topped the CBSE Grade 12 examinations with the school presenting the highest scorers in Board Exams. In co-curricular activities, especially in the sports arena, the school has bagged the CBSE Kuwait Cluster Championship for 12 consecutive years, with athletes from the school taking part in the CBSE National Sports Meet in India.
Lately, the school started coaching and career counseling for students preparing for Entrance Exams to professional colleges using advanced VSAT technology administered by highly qualified teaching faculty graduates. Also recently, the school conducted a very successful merger bringing the senior classes of different campuses under one roof. This was implemented to ensure an equal learning environment and the same level of educational facilities and amenities, while at the same time optimizing the school's available resources.
All the credit for success in curricular and co-curricular activities goes to the principals and teachers, who, along with the Academic sub-Committee that included Bobby Mathew, Dr. Narayanan Nampoory and others, as well as the Sports sub-Committee headed by Binoy Thomas and his team, worked untiringly to ensure the school’s success story.
I would like to add that the Parent Advisory Council (PAC), which has always been fully involved in the school activities, has provided valuable feedback and recommendations, which have been implemented whenever possible, to ensure the best outcome for students.
In this context, I would also like to acknowledge and appreciate the assiduous services provided by all members of the honorary Board in ensuring the best interests of the School. Special thanks goes to the Board Secretary, Vijayan Karayil, for his effective administration and speed in finding solutions, and to the former Board Treasurer, Dinesh Kamath and to Sunil Kumar in Finances, for ensuring that the school’s accounts were stringently maintained, audited and made transparent by publishing it online each year.
The school has always upheld the interests of the community and even when there was permission from the ministry to raise the school fees, ICSK has maintained its low-fee structure. But this has had a downside in that the school has not been able to provide its faculty with a relatively good pay scale. However, I am proud of the fact that during my tenure, and with approval from all members of the Board, the school was able to deliver a one-month additional salary to all the staff.
Though ICSK is a school run on the basis of low-fees, it has been able to save enough money to develop its academic and co-curricular facilities and amenities in order to provide students and the faculty with a positive school environment. I am also very happy that this year the school has been able to renew the building contract for its Salmiya and Khaitan campuses for an unprecedented 10 years, which in the past has never been for more than five years at a stretch.
The school has also set up a generous Endowment Fund, which over the past four years has been providing financial support in the form of free merit and sports scholarships to scores of deserving students. I am pleased that with each passing year, the Fund has enabled more and more deserving students to further their academic and athletic goals. Here, let me add that I am especially grateful to the Indian community as they have always been most generous in their contributions which have helped maintain the continuity of this Fund.
Also, this year, through the joint effort of the Board, the Sponsor and the Indian Embassy, as well as the full support of the Kuwaiti government, the school was finally able to gain permission and acquire the necessary land to build its own campus; this is a first for any Indian school in Kuwait.
During my 15 years of association with ICSK, I have had the pleasure to interact closely with many wonderful people, including teachers, parents, Board and PAC members, the Elders, Alumni, Community members and, of course, with the students. I enjoyed my time working with all of them and in the process learned a lot from them.
Through the dedicated and tireless effort of everyone concerned it has been possible to put in place a solid foundation for the school’s success. I am sure that with the diligence of the faculty, collaboration of the community, guidance of PAC, the Elders and the Alumni, as well as the leadership of the Board, ICSK will have a glorious future ahead of it; I wish them all the very best,” said Mr. Kalra in conclusion.