Nirmala Kamat, Founder – My Blue Nile
Teaching was her passion since childhood. Nirmala Kamat fondly remembers the teachers’ day celebration when she was at higher secondary and the older students had been given the responsibility to teach the younger classes. While teaching the class of standard seventh, the Principal who passed by the class was astonished to see how engrossed were the students in her lecture. “That was the first time that my skill was acknowledged” she says.
Gradually this passion turned into profession, and at the age of 18 she established her own coaching classes and playschool under the name of ‘Kamath Classes and Blue Nile Playschool’. It has been a long journey since then.
“The initial stages were tough as I had no economic support” she says. She takes pride in setting up everything from scratch from finding a place to managing studies and home in parallel, recruiting like-minded members, handling the administration etc. But all this, she says, gave her the wisdom and strength to endure 35 years in running this profession, even in the cut-throat competition phase and many other challenges.
Nirmala holds a masters in Financial Management & Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education.
Here are some more insights from the passionate educator, as shared with team ABT.
Tell us who is your greatest inspiration & why?
For any kid, his/her teachers and parents are like Gods. The seed of teaching was sown in me in childhood as I was highly influenced by my primary teachers who have a great share in shaping who I am today. I am also encouraged by the faith that my mother had in me. She was the one to recognize the talent in me and persuade me to start something on my own, rather than to accept a job under someone. I also firmly believe that a child might grow up to be whatever he wants but his/her roots lie with a teacher and thus teaching Is the most noble profession. I guess, these forces have inspired me to take up teaching professionally.
What is my Blue Nile all about? How is it unique?
The name of the institute is inspired by the name of an important African river- Blue Nile. In the dry, desert regions of Africa, the Blue Nile river acts as an elixir of life. It is because of this river that powerful civilizations have been able to flourish in Africa.
Established in Bhandup, Mumbai in the year 1982, we offer not just a pre-school programme but also after-school co-curricular and extra-curricular programmes. Operating for about more than 35 years now, My Blue Nile is known for its children-friendly and innovative approach towards pre-primary and primary education. The curriculum and philosophy of the school is inspired and based on the Montessori philosophy and multiple-intelligence development of children.
For any child, exploring his environment is an essential part of growing up. Children require proper space for play and activity. In a populous city like Mumbai, space becomes a constraint and children often do not get the opportunity to manipulate spaces. In My Blue Nile, this need of the child is addressed. The class rooms of My Blue Nile are spacious and cover an area of 1500 sq. ft. This allows the children to run, glide, slide, swing and play to his/ her hearts content. The interiors are designed to provide comfort & safety to the children and our dedicated, hard-working and loving staff-members make the children feel at home.
Similarly, our institute is a personal Blue Nile to its students, as it gifts them a new life – one filled with fun, joy, creativity and positivity. Just like the river, the institute provides a firm foundation on which the child’s journey towards life gains strength and flourishes abundantly.
Tell us about some of the challenges that you face and how do you overcome them?
The biggest challenge that I face being in this industry, is that, there is no official recognition to preschools. This has led to a lot of mushrooming of playschools. Many of these work only with commercial-aim in mind. This has led to a lot of confusion and negativity with regard to the image of preschools In general. Hence, it becomes challenging to convey the quality provided by our institution. But at the end of the day, it is the word-of-mouth publicity that has helped us thrive towards excellence.
What are your views on the input of social media in education and students.
Social media is like a double-edged sword. It has its pros and cons. Information is provided to children at snap of a finger but has taken away the virtue of patience making kids restless and fostering impatience into their adult life. Though social media provides a lot of career opportunities, it has also encouraged virtual communication to levels which can be highly damaging. Nowadays parents have to make special efforts to see to it that the kids make use of their five senses. Social media will mostly tell you the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of something but practically experiencing and implementing it is an activity that the individuals themselves have to take up. And here comes in the role of teachers and parents.
Tell us about your most cherished milestone
The most cherished milestone in my journey was when I could buy my own commercial place to start my institution. This happened when I was 20 yrs old. Before that, I had a rented classroom. It was not just buying my own commercial place but also the fact that the place that I bought was a spacious one which could facilitate multiple activities in my institution.
What would be your advice to budding Women Entrepreneurs?
“There is no short-cut to success. Being passionate is the only way out. Stick to your principles and philosophies come what may. Last but not the least, believe in yourself!”.
What would you like to achieve in coming years?
My basic aim is to provide positivity and love to children and my aim thus remains to take My Blue Nile more and more to the masses. Along with this I also aim at sharing my experiences with young parents and help create a healthy future generation.