By Danish Reyaz
The historical city of Aurangabad, also known as the City of Gates in the western state of Maharashtra, has around 30 percent Muslim population. The community has significantly contributed to the welfare and progress of the city and continues to do so.
Invariably, education has a big role to play in this endeavour. Therefore, the community needs education institutions at par with international standards and also conforming to Islamic values and principles.
To that end, AMES Kids and Pearl Academy have been a pioneer in quality education in Aurangabad for many years now, enabling students to achieve excellence and making them worthy citizens capable of contributing to the progress of the city and the country at large.
Start of the journey
With a modest beginning of 60 students and 5 teachers, the School has grown leaps and bounds in scale and reputation. The CBSE affiliated school now has about a thousand students and hundreds of teachers under its roof. Each year the stories of its success are getting better and better.
In Aurangabad and adjoining areas, Pearls Academy is now known for providing exceedingly superior quality of education that parents crave for their children.
There is now an intermediate college in the pipeline to cater to the need of the Muslim youths who can build a solid foundation before they go for higher education or professional courses to shape their careers.
Reasons for success
One can ascribe several reasons for the success of the Pearls Academy. It has highly driven board members who are always eager to expand the academy into different levels so that it becomes genuinely fruitful for the educational requirement of the community.
Next is dedicated and vastly experienced teaching staff trained to go out of the way to help students in their education and mentor them for growing up into fine individuals according to Quranic principles and Sunnah.
Parental involvement in the process of their children’s education is another reason for the success of Pearl Academy. While the teachers diligently work inside the classrooms, parents are also guided to contribute to their children’s progress by supporting and encouraging them.
For a school, however, no success is achieved without the hard work put in by students themselves. The Pearls Academy nurtures a culture of disciple and hard work, and no wonder students from this school appear to be more focused and keen on doing well in exams and lives in particular.
In instilling this positive attitude among the students, Pearls Academy’s focus on moral and religious teachings alongside modern education has a lot to be credited for. Discipline and peace derived through these teaching methods help students channel their mental and physical energy towards academic studies more effectively.
Residential systems for staffs and students
Pearls Academy believes in the optimal learning environment for its students. Therefore it has a residential hostel system called Oyster, ensuring students (aged ten years and above) a home away from home.
Students live in safe settings where there are people to care for all of their needs, allowing them enough time to concentrate on their studies. The faculty also resides on the campus to help the students with their studies around the clock.
Living in a three-star on-campus housing, the students are exposed to different students from different backgrounds, which ultimately help them nurture tolerance and friendliness. Even the hostel is open for international students, meaning the development of cross-national cultural affinity among students.
Besides studies and relation-building, the students are well-exposed to recreational activities, sports facilities, gymnasium, swimming pool, etc. At Pearls Academy, students get comprehensive attention and resources to blossom their personalities.
Right blend of moral education
The ultimate goal of Pearls Academy is to create exemplary human beings equipped with both spiritual and worldly education. As the world is going through turbulent times due to widespread hate and violence, it is imperative for institutions to work to bring harmony among people in whatever possible ways. The role of an educational institution assumes even greater significance at this time.
Mere excellence in worldly education and knowledge is not enough. Efforts should be made so that education becomes a tool to appeal to and enrich students’ inner faculties in creating harmonious god-fearing humans out of them.
And what better ways than teaching them in guiding light of the Holy Quran and sayings and practices of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) that will also hold them in good stead in the life hereafter.
As part of its commitment to inculcating Islamic teachings, at Pearls, studies of Deeniyat and Quranic studies are part of a planned curriculum from the very basic stage of education.
In fact, Deeniyat and Qaida/Quran is part of seven guiding principles that Pearls Academy follows to achieve its institutional goals, including community connect, collaboration, unique learning systems, inspired teaching, and connecting minds as others.
Under Deeniyat and Qaida/Quran, three main programs are taught to the students, which are as follows:
Qaida Program begins in grade 1 and completes in 18 to 24 months. The Qaida program is designed to be taught in regular school hours so that no extra burden is put on the tender shoulders of young students.
Nazera Program, on the other hand, requires students to stay back beyond their regular class hours till evening to complete their Nazera program and academics. The Nazera program starts after completing the Qaida program and usually takes 24 months.
Hifz Program follows the Nazera program and requires students to stay in a residential hostel for about 36 to 42 months, which is the duration of the course.
These programs are perfectly intermixed with the academics. As a result, students, while learning for the modern competitive world, also take care of what is required of them to be a true Muslim and seek a disciplined, peaceful life in society and salvation in the hereafter.
Special Foundation Course: BUNIYAD
For the students to tackle the cutthroat competition in employment, the Pearls Academy remains heedful from the beginning stages of education. It has a special foundation course called Basic Understanding to Nurture Intellectual Attitude and Diligence (BUNIAD). The course enhances a child’s cognitive ability who, in the process, is helped to broaden his knowledge and develop problem-solving skills to excel in different levels of competitions in future.
The dedicated and qualified subject experts make it easier for students to build a strong foundation and achieve set academic targets. To that effect, from standard VI onwards, there is a specialised program to address the specific educational needs of slow or gifted learners.
At the vocational training centre, experts provide the most relevant and up-to-date training to students to enhance their employability skills. Also, top-level experts reside on the campus and guide students to decide a career roadmap and achieve it.
Pearls Academy conducts various sessions and seminars to spark career ambitions among the students from the very early days. Lately, a session on “Why Civil Services?” was organised for the students of grades 8 to 10 who were introduced to building the right strategies for clearing civil service exams.
Seamless transition to online mode during lockdown
The pandemic-induced lockdown had given many jitters to schools all around as they struggled to switch to an online mode of teaching, given the unfamiliarity with modern technologies. However, it was not to be in the case of Pearls Academy.
The school was already using G-suite before the pandemic. Within mere three days of the first lockdown, the school was in the game, entirely conducting online classes using different Google apps and other educational applications.
The teachers and students hearteningly embraced the virtual way of learning quickly. Besides the classes, various meetings, activities, and competitions were conducted online without any glitches. Whether it was study materials or assessments & assignments, everything streamed online seamlessly.
It demonstrates that Pearls Academy is fully equipped and future-ready for online mode of schooling as and when future demands. The school plans to become a Google Reference School with Blended Learning and Flip-Classroom facilities, and rightfully so.
Laurels and recognitions
For its proven track record for excellence, Pearls Academy has many laurels and recognitions coming its way on a regular basis. First and foremost, it was adjudged as one of the Best Preschools at the National level by AKG Education, New Delhi.
The school has won lots of awards for participating in myriad events such as Lokmat Times Campus Club, various inter-school activities, Olympiad exams, and several sports competitions.
While several teachers and students have won several prizes, recently, Sayyed Saad Aman, a grade VII student, became one of the youngest authors in the country for his maiden novel “SanFranciscan Dream,” available to purchase on Amazon. He is a talented author who has also written a dozen stories besides translating a Marathi novel into English titled “The Shackles.”
Another recent laurel the school has won is for an exciting activity. During the lockdown, its students managed to read about 5500 books online. The librarian Mr. Furqan was awarded by the EPIC- The Leading Digital Library for Kids across the Globe.
A shout-out to School Development Team (SDT)
The Pearls Academy has an excellent School Development Team (SDT), which constantly keeps one step forward into the future. The team led by Mr Muniruz Zama Deshmukh focuses on building modern facilities and introducing innovative programs for the betterment of the school and its students.
Whether establishing a Residential Facility, Senior Secondary School, Hifz Academy, Sports Academy or introducing Foundation Course, SDT has always been instrumental in all of these initiatives.
Lately, it has partnered with Bengaluru-based SportzVillage, known for implementing Sports and Physical Education (P.E) programs specific for different age groups of students.
Also on the card is a Robotics STEAM Lab and Entrepreneur Incubation Centre Hub necessary for keeping up with the world in learning new approaches to education.
For a beleaguered Muslim community in the polarised world, education is the only tool at our disposal to make us confident and drive us to continue playing our part in the development of the community and the nation as a whole.
In this regard, Pearls Academy has been doing an excellent service by preparing new generations that can stand in this world on the strength of their education and take immense pride in their identity as Muslims.
While the school has been a shining glory in the field of modern and moral education in Aurangabad, it should make more efforts to bring more deserving students from the poor and disadvantaged community into its fold. It should also consider a residential hostel for girls to provide equal and gender-neutral opportunities. We sincerely believe the school management must be contemplating this.
Meanwhile, we extend our best wishes to Pearls Academy as it plans to embark on a new journey with an intermediate college. Such a step will go a long way in boosting the morale of Muslim youths who badly want quality education but in an Islamic setting and environment.