One of the biggest education brands in Nagpur, ‘Centre Point School’ has nurtured lakhs of students since it’s inception in 1979. The ‘Centre Point Group of Schools’ comprises seven schools including Mother’s Pet Kindergarten (MPK) and Centre Point School (CPS). Today the group stands tall with it’s four branches of MPK at Sadar, Wardhaman Nagar, Wardha Road and Amravati Road Bypass and three branches of CPS at Katol Road, Wardhaman Nagar and Amravati Road.
The director of Centre Point Group of Schools, Aruna Upadhyaya, who is the pillar behind the success of the school, has been instrumental in changing the face of education in the city. Way back in the late 1970’s, when education was confined to the four walls of the classrooms, Aruna defied the conventional standards and came up with an educational institution, which focused on all round development of the students in a true sense. Today, many would associate the word ‘snobbery’ with the students of CPS but there’s no denying the fact that the school has time and again proved it’s mettle by establishing itself as one of the most sought after and reputed schools across Nagpur.
Nation Next gives you an insight of how Aruna Upadhyaya made Mother’s Pet Kindergarten and Centre Point School the quality institutions they are today…
The default entry
In spite of coming from an affluent family and being the daughter of late NKP Salve, who was a well known chartered accountant and a former Union Minister and president of the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India), Aruna created her own identity. Aruna, like her younger brother Harish Salve, who was the Solicitor General of India and is one of the leading lawyers of the country, too wanted to don the black robe. But, destiny had some other plans in store for her.
She couldn’t pursue law – a profession of her choice – due to the strong gender bias back in the 1970s. Speaking about her entry in the field of education, Aruna says, “I pursued M.A. in Economics from Nagpur University and obtained a Diploma in Childcare Design from Harvard University (USA), as teaching was a profession everybody was happy with.” Aruna, who established MPK in 1979, says that her progressive family supported and motivated her for her start-up. “My father told me that if being in the field of education makes me happy, I should continue with it. In fact, my father loved children. So, I was more than happy to come up with MPK,” says Aruna.
From a garage to an 80,000 sq ft kindergarten!
Rome was not built in a day and so wasn’t Aruna’s educational conglomerate. MPK and CPS were built brick by brick over the years. Aruna, while narrating the story behind the inception of MPK, which today enjoys strength of around 2000 students, says, “I conceptualised MPK in 1978 and established it in 1979. I started the kindergarten in a small rented garage at Saraf Chambers’ annex near my house (Sadar) with just three rooms.”
She further said, “I had expected an admission of 15-20 children then but the school started with 80 odd students! After that, we shifted the kindergarten to a new building. Behind my house was an annex building, which was my father’s office. When he relocated to Delhi, we purchased the entire property from him in early 1980s. The annex building was then demolished and a new building was erected for the kindergarten. In fact, we’re now expanding it to 80,000 sq ft. So, from a garage to a building, MPK has always remained near my house!”
Kindergarten to school
Ten years after Aruna conceptualised MPK, she decided to come up with a full-fledged school – Centre Point School – with strength of around 7,200 students! Speaking about CPS’ humble beginnings, Aruna says, “My first batch of 10th standard comprised 25 students. The strength of the students kept increasing by around 200-300 every year. To manage such a high influx of students, I always kept a high student-teacher ratio by engaging more and more teachers.”
Speaking about why she thought of opening a full-fledged school, Aruna says, “There was a crunch of good schools back then. So, the owners of educational institutes had an upper hand and they did whatever they wanted to. Having said this, I have a lot of respect for mission schools but their passion in life is different. Unfortunately, they didn’t believe in providing quality time to their students. I’m so glad that because of me, all the schools in Nagpur had to provide numerous facilities just to stay in the game. In fact, because of Centre Point School, so many institutions that have cropped up of late had to pull up their socks and set higher standards for themselves.”
Quality over quantity
Centre Point School, which is affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Examination (CBSE), is known for the quality education if offers and over the years has become one of the biggest brands in Nagpur. On how exactly she managed to establish Centre Point School as a brand, Aruna says, “I really don’t know when we became a brand! I just kept working sincerely. Our students, who share fond memories with the school, have made us a brand. We always ensured we focus on the quality of education over the quantity of students. We’ve always provided personal attention to every child. That’s why my students are extremely confident and have great verbal skills. Today, we have a reputation of being completely honest and transparent.”
She added, “All these little things have helped us reach a place where now people look at us as a brand. Nobody can say that we got an admission in CPS by giving bribe.” Talking about her journey in the field of education till date, Aruna says that her becoming an educationist was a turning point in her life. She says, “Mine has been a gradual and a steady journey. I realised that I was extremely comfortable in what I was doing. I spent all my energy and time in transforming myself from an owner to an educationist. Similarly, my daughters Radhika Rajwade and Aparna Sanyal are highly qualified in this field now. Today, they efficiently contribute to the body and the soul of the schools.”
Educationist in a true sense!
When Nation Next spoke to Aruna about the massive finances that she must have required for setting up her educational empire, she proudly says, “You won’t believe, I have never analysed the cost behind a single institute of mine till date. Never! I have never sat and prepared sheets to ascertain the amount of money that is being pumped into the institutes. I have been this passionate about my job! Moreover, the kind of family I come from, we have always looked at our work as our profession. We never looked at it as a means of livelihood,” adds Aruna.
It’s inspiring to know that Aruna is now writing a book on Indian parenting. She’s also planning to set up an international school in Nagpur. Telling us more about the school, Aruna says, “I plan to bring it now because I think now Nagpur is ready for one in a true sense. Just suffixing the word ‘international’ doesn’t make any school international. The faculty should be trained at an international level.”