Dr. Mona Lisa Bal is the initiator behind the Vedic Memory Lab, India’s first initiative to empower students. The purpose of this initiative is to strengthen learning with the best combination of traditional and modern pedagogical practices for holistic learning. With her generalship, the school has created trained and skilled teachers for special children to give them the best opportunity to join mainstream education with a meaningful, stress-free transition.
Besides, she is proactively engaged with Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS). It is a School for 25,000 tribal students, and mentors for achieving civil services. Through her leadership, KiiT (Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology) International School has achieved all-around excellence and is ranked among the top ten schools in India. In addition, several international awards and MOUs with organizations for academic excellence have been achieved under her guardianship.
Undoubtedly Ms. Mona Lisa Bal is a Mastermind of her sphere. Let’s read the exclusive interview, don’t delay to open your rational mind.
The InCAP: Ms. Mona Lisa Bal, we are eager to know your early life before joining KiiT International School.
Dr. Mona Lisa Bal: As a child, I was inquisitive, ever curious, and always looking for new things to learn. I was mostly very focused on academics, which made me crave academic validation a lot as an adolescent. Before joining KiiT International School, I was pursuing my academic career and was just focused on that. I have my interests very streamlined; I don’t actively look for opportunities; instead, I focus on achieving a set agenda, and when I am on the way to meeting my goals, I like to indulge and finish everything that comes along the way.
Would you please share your journey of becoming a Chairperson of the organization?
My journey of becoming the Chairperson of KiiT International School has been phenomenal. From being approached with the offer to taking it up. As I have already mentioned, I have always been deep into academics and am innately curious; that position was an entirely new venture for me. I was thrilled about a unique opportunity. However, the intricacies of the post opened up to me on the first day of work when I saw the children. I fell in love with work, and hence, here I am. My success as a professional has been credited to the sheer trust of Prof. Achyuta Samanta who said there is power in anonymity & made every challenge I faced seem like a learning curve.
Many young people in the world are now world tech-addicted, and the use of technology increased due to the pandemic. Hence, we want to know regarding tech adoption in your educational organization. And, how much technological benefits do students have?
KiiT International School’s education curriculum is such that we provide both basic and advanced level courses on tech right from the primary levels. We believe in building up right from the bottom. We recognize the new avenue the post-COVID world has offered us, and we have set foot on the same. To name a few, we have set up online counseling for our students, our libraries have both a physical and digital presence, and we even have monthly sessions wherein we present an e-report to the parents on their children’s progress..
What new developments do you want to see in India’s education sector?
I want to see an India where education is inclusive and for all without bias. I would like to see an India where everyone gets their due respect and acceptance. In addition, I would like to see an India that is for everyone and everything. I want to see our children excel and fly as high as possible. I want all their dreams to come true. I want to see an India where no child will have to compromise on their education for other basic needs. I wish that education be added to the basic needs every human being should be privy to. Education has the power to make or break you, and I want to see no child break before their circumstances.
Ms. Mona Lisa, we are attentive to know the influence or inspiration that shaped you and contributed to becoming the person you are today.
I would like to cite my students as a source of inspiration, seeing the little children participating in every activity, giving their all in their studies, and trying their best. I believe children are the most inspirational. You see a little child fall, and you will never see them lose to that fall; they will always pick themselves up, dust themselves off and continue on like that event was already past, and to me, nothing stands purer than that.
Several students and guardians complain that expensive education has suppressed students’ deserving dreams and goals. What’s your comment on it?
I acknowledge that parents often want the best for their children but fail to provide the means for it because of a lack of funds. However, this should never compromise a child’s education. That is why I would urge parents to look for scholarships, grants, and bursaries and apply for them. These are put in place for them, and they need to access them. In addition, I would want parents to conduct research before putting their children in school.
To create a productive and joyful environment, what can be done for children that can help them attain effective learning?
Children, right from a very young age, crave validation. They are compassionate and value an adult’s guidance and praise above all. To give these young impressionable minds a productive and joyful environment, make them feel as secure as possible. They should never feel like they are a burden, not even for a second. When you order someone, you do nothing but put dread in them and make them tired and uncertain. All of these concerns, I believe, will eventually be enormous setbacks. When you lead with fear, your children will only progress for the sake of progress. I believe in working with the kids and leading by example rather than simply hearsay. The only actual traits that assist are faith and trust. When you and your team trust each other, the environment is so distinct and pleasant that it accelerates everything to succeed.
As a woman, what obstacles have you faced to succeed in your field, and how do you handle those?
Sexism in education is abhorrent and should be eradicated in the same way that illnesses are. It makes me very sad to admit that there is still gender bias in the education field, only for the unethical egomania of sick individuals. Moving on to the topic of hurdles, I don’t consider my obstacles to be challenging. Instead, they are just experience points that will help me level up. Challenges are only a tool for me to demonstrate to myself and others that we are above them and that they do not represent our accomplishments or us in any manner.
Ms. Mona Lisa, you’ve observed the world with your extremely talented mind. You’re an idol to many people. People follow you as an icon of leadership. Please Say something to them.
To those who love me and respect me, I would like to extend my thanks, and I would like to let them know that I am incredibly grateful that they deem me worthy of such high praise; however, I would request them not to idolize me. I appreciate the sentiment, but the fact that I am just human at the end of the day still stands. So, if they would want to idolize something, let it be the work that I have done, I will wish they would not want to be like me and rather be someone who could reach out and be the light that the world desperately needs.
I believe that with good leadership skills and quick analytical thinking, one can achieve anything in life. I also feel that to be a good leader; one needs to have the ability to relate with others, making it easier for them to make decisions while keeping others’ points of view in mind. Another skill that I think is very important is Language Skills; knowing different languages helps you stand out in the crowd but also helps gain peer trust. Overall, I believe that no matter how many skills an individual has, if they are not confident in themselves, everything just washes away, so confidence is the red carpet to success.
Highlights of Achievements, Merits, and Honor
- I received the “Emerging Leader” award at Leadership Excellence Awards 2019, Thailand, an initiative by Meccademia Education Group.
- At the 17th Rashtriya Shiksha Gaurav Puraskar Ceremony 2022, I was recognized as a visionary leader by the Centre for Education Growth and Research.
- I am also the Editor of Kloud9, a magazine exclusively for the youth with Ruskin Bon.
- I have participated as a speaker in a panel discussion on Education & Empowerment: Addressing the Gender Gap at India’s First Woman Business Mela, amidst an elite panel comprising of Ms. Susmita Bagchi and Ms. Panchami Manoo Ukil moderated by Ms. Nidhi Dhawan, IWEC.
- I am the Director of Pragativadi, an Odiya Daily Newspaper known for its vast readership and journalists’ values.
Prayer For The Human Civilization
My only prayer to humanity will be that the path forward is a hard one, and the only thing that makes it easier is human connection. So don’t bottle it up. Don’t pretend to be okay when you’re not. Instead, paint it, sculpt it, write it, play it, sing it. Whatever it takes to reach someone else — not just for yourself but for others, both present and future.
Because, to quote the inimitable Terry Pratchett, “in a hundred years we’ll all be dead, but here and now, we are alive.”
The InCAP: Thank you for your time!
Dr. Mona Lisa Bal: You are welcome. My very warm wishes to The InCAP team and to the readers.
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