Home to some of the city’s oldest schools and the sprawling campus of Delhi University, north Delhi’s credentials as an educational hub have been firmly established. Residents can glibly recite names of the old schools that dotted the north Delhi landscape: J D Tytler, Queen Mary’s, St. Xavier’s, Rukmini Devi Jaipuria etc.
With colonies such as Rohini, Pitampura and Pushpanjali Enclave coming up in the 1980’s, the landscape has changed. Metro connectivity, malls and multiplexes co-exist with narrow roads and bustling marketplaces.
Some of the older schools here have become out of step with the times and schools catering to the newer colonies dominate the education scene today. This is mirrored in the results of the 2012 Hindustan Times-C fore Top Schools Survey.
One of the most respected names in the area, Bal Bharti Public School, Pitampura finishes first, with Montfort School, Ashok Vihar nipping at its heels.
While the former tops the ‘teacher care and development’, ‘academic rigour’ and ‘infrastructure and facilities’ parameters, the latter cements its position in the ‘sports’, ‘social accountability’ and ‘value for money’ categories.
“We place a lot of emphasis on sports and games. We provide coaching for many sports, from basketball to skating and karate. Classes are held in the evenings as well,” said Philip Thadathil, vice-principal, Montfort School.
Tied at the third spot are Apeejay School, with the highest scores on the ‘academic rigour’ and ‘life skills education’ parameters and Delhi Public School, Rohini which stands second in the ‘individual attention to students’ and ‘value for money’ categories.
The biggest winner, however, is the Heritage School, Rohini which makes its debut in the top ten at number 6 with the highest scores in the ‘individual attention to students’ and ‘innovative teaching’ categories.
Values and value for money
North Delhi schools cater to a largely middle-class population whose aspirations for their children rest on their education. Hence, academics occupy centre-stage. But value education plays an important supporting role as well.
“Our school is known for its traditional values and Indian culture combined with a modern, global outlook. Students recite the shabad and perform classical dances and moralistic stories are a part of classroom teaching,” said Col (retd) Ashok Kaul, principal, Mata Jai Kaur Public School.
In this task of instilling good values and habits, schools rely on parents as equal partners.
“Family culture is important. For example, we can ban junk food, but outside the school premises, everything is available. Schools can check, prevent, advise, give information, but the implementation depends on parents,” said Thadathil.
Parents, too, are looking for schools which can walk the tightrope between tradition and modernity. IT-enabled classrooms, foreign languages and exchange programmes along with social accountability are on their wishlist, albeit at affordable prices.
With Montfort scoring the highest in the ‘value for money’ parameter, Thadathil refutes the idea of luxury schools.
“We are a missionary school, we believe in frugal living, we don't subscribe to this idea of luxury schools or charging a high fee,” he says.
This idea finds an echo in students as well.
Says Arshdeep Kaur, a class 12th student at Mata Jai Kaur, “My school has taught me the essential values and communication skills. I am confident I will do well in life, doing something I am passionate about, even if it pays less.”