She Started a New Curriculum for Indian Schools: How to be Happy

By Neera Kohli, 61, Delhi

My father was a senior police officer, and my mother a homemaker. I was born in Jalandhar and raised in Delhi, fed on values of giving back to society. Considering teaching to a noble profession, I did my B.Ed, M.Ed and then two Master’s in English and political science.

Once I started teaching at a Delhi school, however, loving and caring for young children became a passion more than a profession.

After 33 years of service as a teacher, I retired last year from my vice-principal’s position at a well-known public school. But there was still a lot left in me! So I launched a programme called ‘The New Me’ to empower the youth with personal development tools, and to enrich their character.

Kids today are bombarded with information but are not taught values and ways to use it. They are taught to chase success, but not happiness. Basing my workshops on Buddhist principles of happiness, positive thinking and personal transformation, I began reaching out to schools and teachers.

One workshop led to another through word of mouth, and in just one year, I’ve had the good fortune to conduct about 20 workshops for both students and teachers. One of the sessions had over 300 kids in attendance.

The validation for my work came when a young girl in one of the happiness workshops said, “I wish your session had been longer. Can’t you come to our school and teach? I want to learn from you.”

We need to teach our youth to add value to each moment, each day, and to be citizens who are cherished not just at home but also in society. And we need our educators to be true role models. We don’t need a thousand people to start a revolution. As Malala Yousafzai said, “One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher, can change the world.”

First published in the August 2018 issue of eShe magazine