Our Commitment To Continuous Improvement
We are pleased to announce that UWC Mahindra College is now officially recognized as a fully accredited Council of International Schools (CIS) member. This important achievement as part of our 2022 Strategic Plan, serves as an independent benchmark of our high educational standards, our focus on living up to our mission and most importantly, our commitment to continuous improvement.
“With 20+ years under our belt, it was important for us at MUWCI to turn our gaze inwards to view ourselves with a critical eye to assess how well we’re achieving our educational mission.” said Head of College, Soraya Sayed Hassen, who also chaired the Accreditation Steering Committee in her former role as Deputy Head of College. “Through the accreditation process with the Council of International Schools, we chose a path that allowed us to transparently and collaboratively assess and shape our own process of self-improvement. The findings will – and have already begun – to see us develop into a stronger and improved institution.”
It Takes A Village
As a learning community, we are always more enthused by the process than the end goal – and were particularly invigorated to participate in this thoughtfully structured exercise that spanned almost three years and required:
The findings of these dedicated volunteers formed the basis of over 300 pages of detailed analysis, proposals, recommendations and advice. Read on to understand how the accreditation process unfolded.
Many Different People Asking Many Good Questions
“How well does our curriculum connect to the local culture and physical environment to help us develop both global and local citizenship?”
“What provisions do we make to reasonably accommodate physically challenged students, personnel or visitors on our campus?”
“How does MUWCI’s governance and leadership team promote an ethos of transparency around decision making and access to information for constituents?”
These were the types of questions Aminatou (Niger, ‘18), Jumpei (Japan, ‘18) and other student Committee members deliberated in their respective Self-Study Committees during the 2017-2018 CIS accreditation process. As second year students they were amongst the group of teachers, staff, alumni and parents who formed seven committees that evaluated distinct aspects of school culture, educational programmes and efficiency of operational systems against a well-developed CIS framework.
Similar to some of our other UWC institutions, we chose the Council of International Schools (CIS) as our accreditation partner due to its strong commitment to international and intercultural perspectives in education and its unique element of “peer evaluation” wherein colleagues from other schools make up the visiting teams which makes the accreditation decision. However most appealingly, was CIS’ focus on purpose-driven implementation of the school’s mission and values across all programmes, which allowed us to capture the uniqueness of our MUWCI values and our longer impact-related goals.
The 7 areas of self-study were broad and comprehensive, including:
“The college Leadership, faculty, staff and students are to be commended for their hard work in preparing for the accreditation visit. They are also to be commended for their commitment to the improvement process flowing from embarking on the accreditation pathway and which is so vital to improve student learning and well- being”.
— Visiting Team Report
Digging through institutional archives, dissecting alumni survey results, extrapolating financial trends from accounting records, interviewing former staff and faculty, commissioning benchmarking exercises vis-a-vis other UWCs and international schools in India – these were just some of the activities undertaken by each Committee during the 18-month process of self-study.
“Some of the standards were pretty hard to evaluate without going pretty deeply into how things stood currently – not just at MUWCI but in terms of ‘best practice’ in education.” said Dev Punaini (India, ’18), currently a first year at Dartmouth College. “I was on the Governance & Leadership Committee, so part of my research included attending a quarterly Board Meeting, interviewing the Head of College about our organizational structure, understanding how school performance was evaluated at a governance level, and so on. We had to try hard to get the full picture and provide evidence for all our assessments.”
“The biggest advantage of the process was that it got us collaboratively analyzing MUWCI’s strengths and areas for further development.” added Maria Charles, Head of Advancement & Admissions. “Often it’s just a smaller group of people on the Senior Leadership team who are reporting on something like the Strategic Plan at a gathering like a college meeting or 10-Year reunion. But getting more people involved in the question of, “Are we the best institution we can be?”, really pushed those conversations out to cafeteria tables, faculty Friday socials, alumni group chats and so on. Because our people are really invested in this place being one of significance and influence.”
In the process of reaching their decision to grant MUWCI accreditation, the CIS Team felt that the commendations – or strengths of the school – far outweighed any areas in which the school was needed to improve alignment with CIS standards. Some of their major commendations were:
The areas of recommendation were also detailed by the Visiting Team in an incredibly useful way. Various office holders are already underway with research and implementation such as prioritized wada refurbishments, improved fire evacuation and smoke detection systems, new approaches to monitoring of curriculum implementation, and a reshaping of a MUWCI-specific mission statement for our unique UWC context. Since the accreditation journey is an ongoing self-improvement process, we are looking forward to making significant progress in these and other areas before our next review.
We would like to give special thanks to all our volunteers and the members of our CIS Visiting Teams for this enormous learning opportunity. Members of our community who would like to know more or be involved please email [email protected] to express your interest.