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Dr. Marie Fernandes, 53, Principal of St. Andrews College is a singleton who asserts that she’s married to her job and that her maternal instincts are slated by the scores of students who steadily benefit from her guidance. In an interface with Aishwarya Iyer, Dr. Fernandes sheds light on how the education system and students, per se, have transformed in India…

Her track record invokes an element of awe. Dr. Marie Fernandes, Principal of St. Andrews College, is a crusader of education who has devoted her best years towards uplifting the welfare of collegians studying in her institution.

Experience & Expertise
33 years and counting… is the answer Dr. Marie Ferandes gave us, when we asked about her teaching experience. Starting as a teacher at Ruia College in the Junior College, the Principal recalls the days when she started her career as a lecturer in St. Andrews in the 90s.Fernandes completed her Ph.D from Elphinstone College, owing to which she was directly appointed as Principal of St. Andrews in 2006. “That Ph.D which I did routinely and with not much interest, helped me to reach the Principal’s position directly,” she said.
Principal’s Work = Administrative Tasks
Dr. Marie asserts that a Principal’s daily work never really ends. “I’m still working even if I’m at my home,” she said. Working 24/7 is the policy of a Principal, she added. Dr. Marie feels that as she isn’t married, she could devote 100 percent attention to her work, without any disturbances, say, from husband and children. “Sometimes, I’m not even physically present in the College, but I know of what is going on where in the college. Moreover ,it’s administrative work too because you are dealing with the Government, Board, higher authorities, exam committees and all those things and their various rules and regulations”, Fernandes shared.
US Truths Revealed!
When Fernandes was awarded the ‘International Visitors Leadership Award’ by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, she was asked about her married life and children. She responded stating, “ “I am not married, but I’ve 4000 children of my own in my College.” During that time Fernandes was given a tour across all the universities across the US (Washington, Florida, Indiana, Nebraska and California). She noted the differences in the education systems and patterns of students, between India and the US. “I felt our students are more respectful towards teachers, than in the US,” she shared. “I’ve also seen students eating in lectures and teachers not reacting or saying anything about it,” she added.
From Chalk To Technology
“Students remain the same, if you show them love,” said Fernandes. According to her, the earlier years used to be of chalk-duster and interaction, but now it’s all about technology, LCD, projectors and the Internet. Students are appliance-based, she said. At St. Andrews, she says, every classroom is acquitted with technology. There was a time when chalk and duster was enough to educate a child, but now they need research, field visits, getting experts involved and making the child market-oriented, showing them the real world and introducing them to the competition. When asked about the pressure these factors will cause to children, Fernandes said, “Children enjoy the pressure! And companies, these days , choose the best performer who can do multi-tasking,” she said.

‘Social Outreach Program’
When I was appointed as the Principal at  St. Andrews, I introduced the ‘Social Outreach Program’ for the Second Year Degree College students, says Fernandes. During this program, students visits orphanages and old-age homes for interaction and providing help.“There use to be resistance from the students initially, but later on they realised the importance of this program. They realised that their problems and tensions were not really as monumental as they thought them to be. Moreover, they also realised how lucky they were!”,  shared Fernandes.
Wow Education, India!
Fernandes feels that education in India is cheap, good and affordable, as compared to International education, which is expensive. The quality of education is really improving, states Fernandes. “ The ‘University Grants Commission’ (UGC) is trying to make our education system real good
and make it compatible with that of foreign education.

Technology plays a vital role in the education structure. Moreover, technology makes studying fun which attracts the children to do more. Study more and work more,” concludes Fernandes.