The mindset makes the school

An absolute dream. The perfect school. Very special people. The founder of the Nalanda International School in Vadodara, India, Mayur Patel, Chairman & Managing Director of GD Waldner, shares with us why such superlatives don‘t quite fit.

Nalanda International School in Vadodara, India

Mayur Patel likes to 

communicate about the school Nalanda International School (NIS) is close to Mayur’s heart and talking about it is a real pleasure! Nalanda Knowledge Foundation, which was established by the Patel family, founded the not-for-profit K12 school in Vadodara, Gujarat, in 2004. As Chairman, Mayur devoted much of his time between 2004 to 2010 to strengthening the foundations of the
school. Nalandians is the word the community uses to refer to itself - expressing what unites them at this school: holistic education, strong ethics and values and a very high happiness quotient.

The positive environment creates inner peace

As Mayur Patel begins to talk, an image of a picturesque spot appears before us: we enter the Nalanda Campus through the large school gate. Flowering oleanders line the path, and happy children‘s voices accompany us. Even the drive here, past cornfields and banana groves, was soothingly peaceful. Through Mayur‘s words, we can literally feel that this environment is grounding and at the same time awakens a drive to take part in the various school activities. We were taken to the campus in one of the school‘s 21 buses, it’s sunny yellow colour blends cheerfully into the positive atmosphere.

Clear rules and values support the journey

All Nalandians use the bus service, without exception. Mayur emphasises that this has been true for children and teachers alike for 20 years, including the Patels. To this day, he remembers well the day his son - then a Nalanda student - missed the bus and, as a result, an important exam. Taking the car to avoid the subsequent “F” on the report card did not occur to the Patel family. Quite clearly, school rules were consistently observed even by the Patels themselves. With this kind of upbringing, Adhiraj Patel – now CEO of GD Waldner - has progressed well in life after school as well.

Nobody is above the rest - not even the parents

Looking back from the perspective of their current day-to-day lives, many Alumni students appreciate the value system and life lessons taught at NIS even more, as Mayur knows from talking to them. However, equality for all, is the value that is most deeply embedded among Nalandians, he says. Rich parents? Fancy car or label? Who cares? Everyone rides the bus, everyone wears a school uniform, no jewellery, no watches, no mobile phones are some of the rules that must be followed – all simple things, but crucial in the development of the child’s personality.

They are known for discipline and joyful celebrations

According to Mayur, 50% of education at the school aims to strengthen the children’s character. Celebrating festivals and holidays of all religions is also part of it, because this promotes empathy, creativity, joy and shared fun. And the school has no problem with making it clear that such events also require organisational discipline. Anyone who has ever stood in front of a closed school gate because they were late for their child’s performance knows exactly what Mayur is talking about. Lessons also begin the minute the bell rings. How quiet and empty it must have been in 2004 when the first 120 children started? Today there are 1,400 of them, and every single one of them is determined to never miss even a single day of school.

A journey that raises the happiness quotient

Once again, we are immersed in Mayur Patel’s narrative. We wander through the four impressive school buildings, which let in generous amounts of light and air from outside for learning. For the sake of the environment, there is no air conditioning. Instead, there are thick walls with exposed bricks and lot of air ventilation, just like those built 3,000 years ago at the world’s first University at Nalanda in Bihar, India. The spacious campus extends over 110,012 square metres of picturesque land and includes sports facilities, vegetable beds, outdoor classrooms and a mango forest with 100 mango trees, all of which are a source of joy – not only for our eyes, but also our heart and soul. With a serene feeling of happiness, we say goodbye to the International Nalanda School. Mayur Patel concludes by wishing his late father could see their shared school once again, and all the many Nalandians who have since gone on to their own paths in life. Knowing that they are doing so successfully, and are also extremely happy, gives him great inner satisfaction. In his world, neither perfection, nor pure idyll, nor any other superlative is needed in school and education. If anything at all is necessary, it’s particularly compassionate people.


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