‘We climbed the Himalayas’

4 September 2023 • 11:48
From too few qualified teachers and outdated teaching tools to abuse of power. The General Hindu Elementary School (VAHON) has not had an easy time in recent years. Under interim administrator Anna Maria Andriol and principal Kavita Jewlal, a new, fresh wind is blowing through The Hague Elementary School. "After the Inspectorate's positive opinion, everyone was crying with joy.

Kavita Jewlal knows the General Hindu Elementary School inside out. She started there as a teacher, was an MR member, ICT coordinator, building coordinator and now she is at the helm herself as principal. ‘It’s never boring here. I wanted a challenge and I have one. Fortunately, I am well supported by the board, the partnership and my colleagues. When we had many problems here, I sometimes thought: what did I get myself into? My involvement with the Hindustani community has wanted me to stay; I really want to be able to mean something for that community.’

Clean ship
Kavita will not regret having stayed, because after all the problems of the past few years, it is fair to say that the tide has turned – although the school is not yet out of danger. Kavita: ‘Since the arrival of an interim director, things have moved in the right direction. He has really come clean and started at the basics: are the classrooms tidy, how do the students’ lockers look? Things like that. In addition, he started working on the remedial orders that were there from the Inspectorate.

From SPPOH, Evelyne Wijers was involved as an advisor on appropriate education. Because the school was struggling with a long list of troubled students, Evelyne was asked for advice. This prompted her to take a close look at quality assurance in consultation with the then MT. Evelyne: “Together we worked on the annual plan. In recent months, we also adapted the annual report and school plan with a full MT (including the board). The quality assurance plan has also been largely adjusted and concrete actions have emerged from it to achieve set goals. The team is included in this step by step.

Meanwhile, it is also known that the team will start next school year with an offer from SPPOH: the AB training program, implemented by the Pilot Boat. The important thing now is to implement plans, adjust them and secure achieved results for the future.

School Policy
Is it actually the job of the partnership to interfere with a school’s policies? “Basically, the board and management are responsible for policy,” Evelyne explains. ‘From my role, I initially dealt with quality assurance, but when it became apparent that other plans were not in order, I helped with that as well. And look where we are now! Of the list of care pupils, only a small number remain and they can be counted on one hand.’

Kavita: “True. Now that we are much better organized as a school, we are also able to give students extra support in school. We too are working on inclusive education. So I am very happy that The Pilot Boat is going to coach and support us for a year – also when it comes to inclusive education.’

Finally proud again
Jan. 17, 2023, was a day not soon to be forgotten. The Inspectorate visited and rated the school with the qualification sufficient. “For years we were despised and vilified,” says interim administrator Anna Maria Andriol. ‘And now we could finally be proud again. So yes, when we got that positive verdict, you did see all the emotion come out. Really everyone was crying with joy. I always say: we didn’t climb Mont Blanc, we climbed the Himalayas.

Now is the time to move on. Evelyne: “I now take the school outside as much as possible. SPPOH organizes an awful lot of meetings where schools can learn from each other and inspire each other. That is incredibly useful. And make no mistake: despite the problems here, other schools can also learn from General Hindu Primary School.’

Such as? Evelyne gives an example: “In Hindu culture, respect for elders is held in high regard. You really don’t need to put up posters at this school about being respectful to each other and to the teachers. The students here already do that naturally.

“This is a school with a unique identity,” Anna Maria adds, “and we can all be proud of that.

Evelyne Wijers, Kavita Jewlal and Anna Maria Andriol (left to right) pose for a photo with students from the General Hindu Elementary School.