'A school with a difference'

In educationally backward Budgam district, a 25-year-old engineer wants to change the scenario by focusing on modern techniques of teaching and cultural legacy of Kashmir.

After completing BTech in biotechnology from Amity University, Noida in 2016, Muntazir Mehdi returned home to start work for his dream project, ‘a school with a difference’.  

“Budgam is an educationally backward district and there is not a good private school, that is why instead of doing something else, I decided to open a school here after completing my BTech in biotechnology,” says Muntazir. “The area being close to Srinagar city, rich people here would send their children to the city schools. But majority of the middle class people have to depend on the schools that would not have a good standard. So I decided to fill that gap.”

In less than three years, Muntazir’s dream has taken a good shape in the form of Genesis Global Academy, were more than 250 kids are enrolled for the education at present.

The school, Muntazir says, focuses on the creativity of children and cultural legacy of Kashmir with modern techniques of teaching instead of stressing on the prevalent rote learning.  

“Instead of feeding them with tons of information, we try to impart skills, help them develop in the fields of their choice, give importance to co-curricular activities, like sports, arts etc.,” he says.

The school, according to Muntazir, gives equal importance to the mother tongue. While teaching the students in English and Urdu, they are encouraged to speak in Kashmiri also, so that these blooming buds would remain connected to their roots while spreading their wings in the vast universe.

“Lot of schools here don’t allow kids to speak in Kashmiri but we don’t do that. Our next generation should be able to take our cultural legacy forward,” he says.

Genesis Global Academy is spread over sprawling 17 kanals of land at Patwaw, a hamlet about 2 kms away from Budgam town. 

Looking back at the day Muntazir started to work on his project, it is a big leap forward for him.

“In the beginning, I actually wasn’t expecting much. Being a fresh graduate at the age of 23 in 2017 I started the construction work but was not sure that I can make this much of progress in less than three years,” he says. “I must thank God. The way he unfolded ways for me are beyond my imagination. I kept giving my best, faced every challenge and worked hard day in and day out to make it a success.”

With the help of a J&K Bank loan, Muntazir started construction in 2017 and the first batch of students was enrolled in 2018. Though the construction is still going on and he has still to do lot of infrastructure development but as they say, ‘a good beginning is half done’, Muntazir feels things have streamlined and there is a smooth sail ahead. 

When asked how he developed interest for opening a school, Muntazir says, though, he was clear from the very beginning that he wanted to open an entrepreneurial venture but it was his father who motivated him to go into educational sector.

“My father, who is a great believer in education as a tool for change and progress of societies, inspired and encouraged me to open the school. He is the backbone of this project. Not only has he provided me land and helped financially but he also takes keen interest in day to day affairs of running the school,” says Muntazir. 

The school, Muntazir says, has an edge over others in terms of teaching, technology, availability of audio visual aids and vibrant atmosphere for teaching learning process.

“This school is developing into a next generation school which holds much broader significance than just something that is meant to educate next generation of students,” he adds.
However, Muntazir stresses that at Genesis Global Academy they have taken into the consideration the financial position of the people living in the area.

“The fee structure, as compared to other schools like DPS etc, is four times less so that our people can afford to send their kids to get quality education. Besides we also accommodate the needy students,” he claims.

Muntazir says in next year and a half all the infrastructure development at the academy would be complet and after that upgradation of the school would commence in a phased manner. The present setup is sufficient for upto 12th grade.

Taking inspiration from the Genesis Global Academy, Muntazir believes, the educationally backward Budgam will turn into knowledge hub someday and he will keep working towards that in every possible manner.