Director and Founder Principal,
Holy Angels’ School and Junior College,
Beneath the smiling face is a man who with sheer grit and integrity built up an educational institution that is the pride of every Mumbaikar. As an institution builder, Dr.Oommen David has earned a reputation that few in the State of Maharashtra would dispute. Many honours that have come his way are testimony to Dr.Oommen David’s immense contribution in the field of education and social service.
Oommen David was born as the eldest of the two sons of CG David and Kunjamma of Nambalathu House, at Kuttamperur in Mannar, Chennithala. Since his maternal grandfather was a school teacher who was insistent that his sons and grandchildren should have sound education, there was no doubt that little Oommen would get the best of education.
Oommen David had his primary education at Kuttamperur Primary School and secondary education at Chennithala Mahatma High School to which he had to walks a few kilometres every day. After passing the Secondary School Leaving Certificate examination in flying colours, Oommen David joined St Berchman’s College in Changanassery, where he excelled in studies as well as drama. He was even selected as the best actor in college once. During this period he was staying in the college hostel.
Oommen David secured BSc and B.Ed from University of Kerala. His love for Shakespearean dramas saw him pursue his post-graduation in English literature from the Agra University. During his student days Oommen was a prolific writer in school and college magazines.
In 1974, after completing his studies, Oommen, in his search for a career that best suited his education, landed in Mumbai, then Bombay. He was fortunate enough to secure a teaching position in a school in Panvel where he spent one year. He then joined Model English School, Dombivli as a teacher, a job into which he put his heart and soul.
After a few years of teaching, due to his academic proficiency, administrative acumen and leadership qualities he became the Principal of the school at a young age. During his tenure as Principal, Model English School grew in stature and academic excellence. Oommen David spent 15 long years in the school, shaping its character and destiny, that is to say that he left an indelible imprint on the institution.
Oommen David also headed the St. Thomas English School in Kalyan as the Principal for ten years.
After working for many years as Principal, Oommen felt that his sublime ideas of education could find better expression if he could start an educational institution on his own. He initiated all the necessary steps towards this goal and in 1989 started the Holy Angels’ School and Junior College managed by the Trinity Educational Trust, which today is an institution of repute, known in Maharashtra and beyond.
It is an intense passion for sound human values that sustains Dr Oommen’s life vision and life mission. Holy Angels’ School is all that this great educationist visualised in an educational institution. It is what Oommen David envisages an ideal educational institution that would not be just a centre of academic excellence but one that would be in line with the philosophical ideas and moral convictions of the educationist that he is and that would form the vision and mission of the institution.
Dr Oommen has a deep understanding about the objectives of education. He feels that education must sharpen the intellect and purify the heart. Wisdom must be combined with compassion. A capacity for deep thinking and a habit of serene meditativeness should be inculcated in the minds and hearts of young students.
Although it had started with Maharashtra State Syllabus, it had switched over to the Central Board of Secondary Education in 2007. In fact the institution can be proud that it is the first school in Dombivli with the CBSE syllabus.
For Oommen David teaching is not a profession but service to humanity. He feels that the teacher-student relationship of yesteryears is missing in the modern world. If earlier the teacher was the sole source of knowledge, today there are many other sources as well and this may be a factor that led to the decline of the importance of a teacher.
If earlier, teaching was a dedicated profession and service to society, today most teachers see it only as a source of income. Teachers are also chasing a mirage and riches like any other professionals in the world. Teachers or gurus of yester years had few wants unlike now, Dr. David Oommen says.
He also holds the view that the system of education needs to be rebuilt with a national outlook. Education needs to be reworked with more stress on practical orientation and a new education policy should be implemented. Only then will a generation of talented youth would be created, Dr.Oommen David says.
Situated in the outskirts of Dombivli, spread over two acres of land dotted with luxuriant trees and ever green shrubs, Holy Angels’ School and Junior College has over 2,000 students coming from the different strata of society, irrespective of caste, creed and religion.
Dr. Oommen David sees former President of India Dr.Sarveppalli Radhakrishnan as his guru and follows in his footsteps. He gives a lot of importance to sports and games in moulding the character of young students.
According to Dr Oommen, “One of the chief objectives of education should be to widen the windows through which we view the world. Education should kindle a child’s imagination, broaden his vision and open for him the super highways of knowledge. The aim of education should be to convert the mind into a lining fountain and not a reservoir.”
“Principle-centered, value-based education is the need of the hour,” says Dr Oommen. He is of the opinion that in today’s educational system deep human values such as honesty, selfless service, a compassionate attitude to the economically and socially marginalised are being ignored. There is a mad pursuit towards temporal success and achievements and to stem this swelling tide of crass materialism the school has initiated lectures, seminars, debates, etc. on the core issues of sound human values. Dr Oommen believes that only a principle-centered, value based education can produce enlightened patriotic citizens.
Dr.Oommen David believes that the current crisis in education is less about declining test scores and more about the failure to provide the ‘education for citizenship’. Making students become more socially responsible represents an essential objective for today’s institutions. Creating social responsibility amongst students must become the purpose of the academic environment, as young people’s formation also means to create a high level of awareness about involving these young members of society in solving social problems.
Students’ social responsibilities mainly focus on taking responsibility for one’s own actions. It is a promise every student should make for the society while working for the social, cultural and, ecological causes. These responsibilities are ethically binding and propose that each person acts in such a way that minimizes the adverse effect to those immediately around them.
The well-known educationist believes that the primary duty of a student is to learn and acquire knowledge, improve their intellect and widen their mental capabilities. It is estimated that nearly 15 per cent of the total population of India consists of students. The students, therefore, constitute a great potential force capable of leading a nation to great heights of progress.
It is well said that the Destiny of a Nation is being shaped in her Classrooms.Dr.Oommen strongly believes that schools have a tremendous role to play in making better citizens of the country. School is the platform wherein students learn the good traits of life such as discipline, obedience, dutifulness, diligence, respect to elders, honesty, and patriotism. It is the duty of every student to acquire these fine qualities of life which will enable him/ her to stand in good stead in the future.
Students can play an important role in improving and strengthening the society and can also act as the guardians of society. It is their duty to fight against all evils existing in society. They have a tremendous responsibility to see that injustice, inequality, oppression, exploitation, corruption, criminalization of politics, communalism, casteism, misuse of public money, etc., are done away with. Students have great strength to oppose these evils of society.
Dr.Oommen says that students do pay a vital role in society and have a strong bearing on how a society is shaped in the forthcoming generations. The society should give students the love and encouragement due to them. When students are treated with due respect and responsibility, they will also live up to be responsible and respect the society in return. When they are recognized, they will have the motivation to work for a better society even by facing hardships rather than giving up in between.
Leelamma Oommen, who was the Principal of a School and Jr. College in Thane, is Oommen’s life partner who has stood by him through thick and thin. The couple has two sons, Bijoy and Manoj. Bijoy Oommen, who has an MA, B.Ed and M.Phil, is the principal of Holy Angels’ School and Junior College at present. Manoj Oommen is working in the United Kingdom.