The chicken or the egg … what came first?

The SSESA has kept an extremely low profile, almost invisible — I cannot recollect hearing of the SSESA when I finished high school in 1977 (higher secondary in 1979). But then I may have been dreaming and not really bothered about that. (Mind you, there was this immense, “free at lastâ” feeling that prevailed at the time, and I sense I am not alone in the invisibility of SSESA nor the lack of interest in SSESA at end of schooling). But its more interesting to ask why SSESA was allowed to be invisible? Could it be because no one actually missed them; we ex-students did not miss them. Because, I believe that if we had missed them, we would have looked for them and prodded them on and chased them — like we are doing now. So, we ex-students are the real reason it exists (or will not exist for that matter). So, we have prodded, what do we do now?

Well, we can break down and rebuild the SSESA. Or we can renovate and reenergize. The beauty of non-physical structures is that you can renovate, reenergize and extend with the same effect of rebuilding, a case of having your cake and eating it. So, I am all for renovation; implicitly accepting not destroying but evolving it to be something into something we wish it to be. So, the ball is in squarely in our court. What do we want it to be? Managing Committees come and go and ex-students come and go; the SSESA must exist beyond us. The energy of discussions and exchange of viewpoints is proof that there is wish to grow the SSESA.

Creating awareness is something we need to do; awareness amongst students, ex-students, ex-staff, and their families, benefactors and anyone who wants to make a difference for the school. This portal is a step in the same direction, and we must do this physically –Vikram Moorjani has prepared material that is posted to the school notice-board. However, we must also work on what we have to offer. Creating awareness without anything to offer, is equivalent to advertising for products we do not have (or vapourware as the IT business would say). So, are we open for business? Do we have products or services? Maybe not right away, but I sense we have some good ideas to work on and an interest to make it happen; a staff healthcare programme, a mentor programme, a library programme, an infrastructure programme etc. These ideas need to be fleshed out.

But, there is also work to be done; some barriers to be moved; (1) shaping an operating model for the SSESA, one that manages and gives life to these “products or services” and (2) validating these “products or services” against the priorities of the school. For the operating model, we have some material to work with; the SSESA’s current Memorandum of Association is out there; a fairly stable legal document, it serves its purpose of stating how the SSESA is incorporated, rules, objects and election procedures etc. That’s fine and essential to function as a legal entity. But, what is not very clear is the vision “the heart and the soul” of the SSESA. It could be more explicit to secure that ex-students and benefactors can participate. So, should ex-students wait till the MOA is refined? or should they refine MOA to make the change. A classic case of the chicken and the egg; what came first? I’d say propose changes to the MOA to make it crisp and flexible. Any legal and/or accounting help out there to shape this?

And then this, validating the objectives of the school. This is a larger topic that I will leave for another post; I understand the Jesuit Education Organisation is deliberating on approaches on how to be relevant for the education market in the world of “India Shining. While they deliberate, let us start creating simple “products and services” that the school can benefit from and use. We need to be mindful that the school organisation has the capacity to accept/take over our “products and services” (teaming with the PTA could be worth exploring). So, lets use these “products and services” to drive the dialogue with the school and even help them in these deliberations.

In closing, a simple “joke” — Joseph, Tej, Gerald and Ernest were members of the Scout Troop and had to report to the Scout Master on their good deed of the day. Says Joseph “Master, Tej, Gerald, Ernest and I helped the old lady cross the street at Pali Naka in heavy traffic”. Says the Master “That’s a good deed, but I am curious as to why it took 4 of you to help her?” Says Ernest “Master, she did not want to cross the road just then” Smile

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