Mr. George Castelino - an insight
By Vijay D'Souza, UK [ Published Date: April 18, 2010 ]
Mr. George Castelino, the former headmaster of Shri Mahalingeshwar School, Nakre, who bagged the prestigious 'National-level Best Teacher Award' for the year 2006-07, is a distinguished and familiar face for the people around Udupi and Mangalore. It was a chance meeting with him recently that led to an informal discourse, which gave an insight into the man that simply merits some attention.
Although renowned for carrying out various seminars around the coastal region, the overall contribution by people like him often go unacknowledged. He is the son of Late Lawrence Castelino and Angeline Castelino. Mr. George Castelino is married to Mrs. Reena Fernandes, also a teacher by profession and they have three children. The eldest son Roshan S.J is a religious. Ranjan is doing M.Sc in Automotive Engineering at MS Ramaih College, Bangalore and Ms. Shaman is in her final year of B.Sc at Bhuvnendra College, Karkala.
Mr. George Castelino was educated at Siddaganga Mata, Thumkur- a charitable institute- has fond memories of the place. Benefiting from free education, he says that Christian Institutes and charities should be even more charitable regarding free education. He started his career as a teacher in Shri Mahalingeshwara Aided Higher Primary School in 1972. He became the headmaster of the same school in 2004-2007 before retiring in October 2007. He is the first and the only Catholic teacher from a non-Catholic institution in Mangalore Diocese to win this award. He was also awarded as the best teacher at the state-level in the year 2004-05. He is a member of Catholic Sabha from 1989. He was the Varado founding President of Karkala Varado 1992-1994 and founder secretary of Nakre Yuvaka Mandala. He is also the editor of parish bulletin Nakrechein Neketr.
He worked as a resource person in the early nineties in the Literacy Movement- Saksharath Andolan. He followed this up with working on demolishing the myths afflicting the society and in particular demonising the common people of South Canara. Buoyed by the success and being a teacher himself he thought this should not be limited to illiterates. In fact, he thought that it should be also extended to school teachers to enable them to fight ignorance and eradicate this malaise in much wider scale as they come face to face with these myths amongst parents of the pupils’. So far, he has carried out nearly 200 such workshops, not only in the undivided Dakshina Kannda district but also in places like Shivmogga district and continues to raise awareness against common myths. He has also published an aptly named Konkani book, Karyem Sobhann, to help people organize and host social events in a traditional and customary manner. He is, perhaps, the only person to have compered over 5000 events free of cost from 1968 onwards. He is of the opinion that events like roce etc become more meaningful when emceed by a local person within the ward or locality. Whilst this helps to strengthen the bond amongst neighbours it can also help poor to avoid costs associated with commercial services. With this is mind he has been training Gurkars (ward leaders) at various parishes to compere programs.
In the wake of church attacks, Mr. Geroge Castelino was key member of the Christian community in Karkala which organised a solemn silent rally condemning the attacks. He is quite critical of the authorities who haven’t done enough to assuage the feeling of Christians given their anguish; where in spite of promises from govt of providing justice, sporadic events of attacks on places and symbols of worship have repeated quite often. However, he says we can change evil in the society by only doing good. Therefore he urges unity among leaders of all religions and hopes to see them not become pawns of politics of religion. Furthermore, he thinks that the understanding shown by the Christians leaders in the wake of attacks could be extended in conducting religious seminars (Dharmic Sammelan) on the occasion of parish feasts. Also Christian religious leaders could send goodwill messages during celebrations of other religions so that divisive minds could be isolated and exposed and people could continue to live in harmony in the way they used to.
About his beloved teaching profession, he says, he has fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a teacher; and is of the belief that if one loves one’s profession, one can achieve anything. His outlook on teaching is that if a student knows that his teacher loves him he will often try to beat his limitations in order to overcome the difficulty in learning. At the same time he thinks that teachers should do more than mere tutoring to make subjects easier for students given that all students are not same.
For a man who must have witnessed many unforgettable incidents through years of teaching and other community activities, one incident clearly stands out from the rest. It was occasion when he was both pleasantly surprised and emotionally stirred when his old students residing in Mumbai felicitated him as he was going to receive the best teacher award to Delhi via Mumbai.
Mr George Castelino urges more participation of Christians and other minorities in politics. He does not mean that one should pursue active politics for this sake. He says that citizens hardly participate or even aware of Gram Sabha and Ward Sabha meetings. If people begin to attend these meetings not only they would be aware of issues affecting them, they can press for their respective causes with local authorities. He hopes that people would realise this sooner and not just stand idle and hope to bring accountability in the system just by mere complaining. He is the man who knows what he says; these days you often find him in local MLA’s office- at the suggestion of this leader- to help poor inarticulate people register their petitions in a coherent manner.
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