Meet the Person: Nellie Ahmed Tanweer - Entrepreneur and Educationist
Born into a family of tea planters and having the illustrious poet and philosopher Late Mofizuddin Ahmed Hazarika for her grandfather, Nellie Ahmed Tanweer completed her schooling in Pine Mount School, Shillong. She did her higher studies in Guwahati and then opted to undergo training in the Montessori system of teaching in Kolkata following her mother’s advice. “I had a keen interest to follow a career path that would not only empower me as an individual but also bring light to the new generation and thus I chose to pursue a career in Montessori Training,” Nellie informed G Plus.
Way back in 1988, Nellie embarked on a journey when Maria Montessori House of Children kicked off with just a single child. The school, within a very short span of time, graduated to Maria’s Public School. Today, after 27 years of its establishment, the school imparts holistic education to 2000 plus children with the unique vision of Nellie, ‘Learning Beyond the Classroom.’
Talking about her vision and aspiration for the children, Nellie said, “I want all our children to excel in life, not just academically but to have an independent understanding of one’s dream and achieve their goal. I wish to see them as ambassadors of peace, love and build a prosperous nation.”
“Soon, I’d like to expand and build a university in our region to impart world class education for technical studies,” she further added.
Nellie has been involved with community service ever since she started her school. Besides her prompt action in times of need upon occurrence of natural calamities, she also maintains a regular interaction with schools in her vicinity, especially the under privileged section of the society through her ‘Community Connection’ programme. Maria’s Public School also has an inclusive education wing for the differently-abled students.
In recognition of her initiative and effort in many spheres of education in North East India, Nellie Ahmed Tanweer has been bestowed with various honours by different organizations. Nellie has been conferred with coveted awards like Rajiv Gandhi Shiromoni Award in 2012, Best Entrepreneur Award in Northeast India by FICCE in 2012, the NEDFi Award 2015 for her entrepreneurial initiative in the Northeast region, ‘Be The Change-Stree Udhyami Award’ by the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) in 2016, Woman Achiever’s Award for Education by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2016, and the Most Influential Leader by White Swan Awards for Excellence in Education in 2016. To add to these accolades, the former Chief Minister of Assam, Tarun Gogoi, has also acknowledged her initiative towards the differently-abled students.
Nellie, talking to G Plus about the present scenario of education in Assam said, “I’d have to say that there is still a gap between government run institutes and private schools in terms of infrastructure. Curriculum is the same everywhere, but sanitation, availability of clean water, safety measures aren’t alike.” In spite of certain problematic areas, the educationist says that Assam is at par with the rest of the country in terms of quality of education as students from the region are going global and doing well in their respective fields all over the world, not just in India.
She further informed us about the difference in education that she sees today, compared to her own days in school, and said, “During my school days, things weren’t as aggressive as it is now. Sure we had to keep up with scores and academics but we were encouraged to stay close to nature. Gardening and housekeeping was a part of school curriculum; that is not the trend now. There is more competition and struggle for marks than all-round development among students. Thankfully, at Maria’s Public School, I have been able to instil that enthusiasm for nature and we have pollination garden and butterflies flying in our campus.” She also added that she’s not in favour of children using social media because while it is a good platform to express one’s views and opinions, a lot of its content is unfiltered. Not everything we read on the internet is true and a lot of it comes from unreliable sources.
Not only is Nellie involved in the field of education, her interests also lie in income generation projects for the underprivileged women in her handloom industry and in the school. She is proud to be upholding the rich heritage of handloom by empowering the underprivileged women with a platform to earn their livelihood with dignity in her weaving unit.
To all the women who aspire to become entrepreneurs, Nellie has a word of advice, “I’d just like to say –think big, be relentless, don’t be afraid of falling, wake up and chase your dreams. Do not let your gender come in the way of your goal, because women are at par with men. And if you wish, nothing can stop you.”