Hello Teachers, Parents, Students, Cricket fans, and all the others! In this week’s #BlabWithSandy, I have Mrs. Fatema Agarkar with me. She is an Educationist, a veteran of 3 educational start-ups – Managing Trustee & Director, JBCN Education, Co-Founder of KA Edu Associates and now Founder of the Agarkar Centre of Excellence, Fatema’s passion for teaching-learning and children defines the different roles she has crafted – as an edupreneur, educator and mentor.
Being a sportsman’s wife (Ajit Agarkar), she has also fostered cricket and sports in relation to education. Let’s dive into the blab I had with Fatema to know more about her and her latest venture ACE – Agarkar Centre of Excellence.
Sandy: Hello Fatema. Hope my Hello finds you doing good amidst these testing times.
Fatema: Hi Sandy! Yes, we are all going through the same. More power to each of us.
Sandy: Could you let us know about your early background?
Fatema: Sure! I am a Mumbaikar. My mum was from Queen Mary School along with Shabana Azmi. I went to the same school too, but I believe my mum had more fun than me. For me, schooling wasn’t fun, but I rather feel it was competitive.
Later which, I studied Accounting and Commerce from the prestigious Mumbai based Sydenham College of Commerce & Economics. My dad had a business streak in him, and I was more like a dad’s daughter. In the corporate world, our marks mean nothing. I pursued my degree of Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Birmingham (UK).
Whilst my college, I realized that we had to unlearn everything. I was on scholarship and I had to learn my own way out. I was a State and University topper, but I had to learn to live alone, and unlearn myself from a sheltered South Mumbai household. I had a lot of Chinese and Korean friends, I learnt to cook, and became more independent.
Sandy: Inspiring to hear that! What did you do after the completion of your formal education?
Fatema: I became a part of the Banking fraternity and worked with Commerzbank. I worked with Times of India as an editor. I learnt a lot from Mr. Bhaskar Das at the Times Group. I was also with Egon Zehnder, a Swiss based management consulting group. There were good days, there were bad days.
In the year 2000 is when I realized I got to do something on my own. I recognised my passion in Education. I felt the education curriculum right from the pre-school to the top level were terrible. We need to teach the kids how to use relevance to the current times and maybe towards futuristic scheme of things.
Sandy: You are an Educationist. How did you kickstart your own ventures?
Fatema: I wanted to intertwine modern methods of learning, teaching and customizing education as per the student’s intellectual requisites thus eradicating stress that stems from the education system. I did start out on my journey with another lady professional and we did well for 14 years. I became the managing director for a chain of school which had national and international syllabus.
Later, I realised that we needed something more. Our vision was different after a point of time. I had to start my new journey again as I am very driven as a person. The degrees mean nothing unless we have skilled teachers educating us. Its about relevance and not about content. You can google content, but that won’t help. Its all about how you teach a kid.
I co-founded KA EduAssociates to create more opportunities in the education space with a passion for teacher training. We did quite well but after a while, I felt it was time to combine Sports and Education and hence ACE was born.
Sandy: Interesting! What’s ACE all about?
Fatema: Agarkar Centre of Excellence (ACE) is a unique proposition that focuses on integrating sports as part of the school daily curriculum through its sports vertical and its education vertical. ACE stands as a partner for management and school leadership teams.
It works for enhancing the teaching-learning strategies for teachers, students and parents. Sports is a very relevant aspect in today’s time and its amalgamation with education is a necessity. Today, many people are growing big by becoming sports-persons, musicians, writers, etc. Only concentrating on education isn’t going to take anyone forward.
ACE focuses on exposing children to varied opportunities. Sports and learning programs shall empower the young minds and we strive to accomplish that! Ajit and I, founded this initiative and we have a skilled team to foster our chances of changing the way of educating young minds and make them experience world class and life-ready programs.
Sandy: How has the shift in your journey from working with a Corporate to establishing your own company been?
Fatema: I would say, Fantastic! I have got the freedom to explore my vision. Whilst working wit a company, there have been times wherein our vision didn’t match. With my own setup, I feel the scope to come up with our own strategies comes into place.
But it also has us funding, wherein accountability increases, and there is a lot more of pressure involved. It is a good fear to have as is all about taking risks and winning over them.
Quick Shot Round:
- Love: Its friendship
- Your biggest regret: Nah! No regrets
- The most used App on your mobile: Google Meet
- When idle, what do you indulge in? Reading
- If not an Educationist, Fatema would have been a: Maybe a Lawyer
- Good and bad about the education industry: The opportunities are immense and there is great potential. Bad thing is the rate of change, it isn’t fast enough
- If you’d to change something about you, that would be? I am impatient. I need everything yesterday!
- Education: Passion
- Ajit Agarkar: He is a principled, fair, and very well-balanced individual. He is a big role model
Sandy: What’s your take on the current education model? Is there anything that needs a change?
Fatema: Yes Sandy! I feel we need to invite corporates and other private players and have a public private partnership. Need to put pressure on the private players to build schools and take multiple clusters under them.
We need to have an eco-system set for the next 15 years. Corrective actions are to be taken, as we have lost enough time since our independence. Whatever content is being dished, its outdated. A better system needs to come into place.
Sandy: A piece of advice that you’d like to give to the parents or students?
Fatema: Parents should enjoy the phase with their children. Mental health of kids is alarmingly on the lower side, and as parents, we need to understand their emotional quotient. One must understand that there is no perfect school as such, and we need to find happiness within what we get! Kids are getting into depression often, and that’s what ACE is trying to close on.
Editor’s note: It has been my pleasure interviewing Fatema Agarkar. Being an educationist isn’t easy, as it involves lot of research, commitment, and consistency as its all about nurturing others lives. Wishing Fatema, Ajit, and the ACE, a blissful journey ahead!
Please visit https://www.acesportsedu.com/ to know more on how Fatema and her team are changing the face of our education.
Follow Fatema @fatemagarkar
Follow ACE @acesportsedu_2020
Follow Sandy @blabwithsandy
Interview by Sandeep Rao (Sandy)