If there is one common sentiment echoed by students and teachers we met at various schools in Faridabad, it is—Faridabad has arrived. Few students here suffer from a 'Delhi complex'—that Delhi schools are better. Gone is the need to commute long hours to study at one of them. Today, schools in Faridabad are, in fact, turning students away and opening new branches to accommodate the huge rise in number of applicants. Established names such as Delhi Public School have topped the scores in parameters such as ‘teacher care and development’ and ‘extra-curricular mactivities’. Apeejay School has, for a second year running, ranked highest in ‘infrastructure and facilities’ in the 2011 HT-C fore Top School Survey.
What students want
Himanshu Garg, a student of Modern Vidya Niketan moved for his education from his village on the outskirts of Faridabad. “I have come here for better education. The schools here have the best facilities. Their management, teachers and infrastructure are all good,” he said. It seems students in the largest city of Haryana want their spot in the top institutions and a disciplined way of learning.
Schools here don’t believe in simply teaching the prescribed syllabus. They offer a range of life skills education like plumbing, cooking and stitching to aid students’ personalities with their academic pursuits. “I don't want my students to become bricks in the wall. We want them to be knowledge learners,” said Anita Bhalla, principal, Modern Vidya Niketan, Aravali Hills.
What teachers want
Schools have increased interaction with parents to make them aware of a changing education system. “The local people still haven't changed much. Professionals find it easier to adjust to a nurturing model of education,” said Ritu Kohli, prinicipal, Eicher School. She is happy that finally parents of children excelling in cooking competitions stand confidently in an IIT-crazy crowd. This was not common 10 years ago.
“Parents are sometimes woefully unaware of career options other than engineering and medical,” said Vidhu Grover, who teaches at Eicher School.
Another big task for schools is providing affordable education to the outlying areas of Faridabad. “We have a lot of students coming from the vicinity— areas like Jaitpur, Meethapur, Tughlaqabad etc,” said Neelam Gandhi, principal, DAV Public School, Sector 37.
The lack of good institutions for higher education is also percolating down to schools, creating a 'marks and marks only' focus. “Faridabad has mexpensive private colleges of dubious quality, so everyone still runs to Delhi for college admissions. For the town to be anywhere on the education map, this scenario has to change,” said Kohli.
What parents wants
Many parents recognise the importance of balanced school life for their children. They don't care about the cutoffs or marks, rather they want their kids to have good personalities and a strong character. Academics, they feel, can be managed but these traits will go a much longer way.
“My personal view is that my kids don't need to study. They should know how to speak well and how to behave appropriately in society,” said Devender Singh Dagar, an IT professional. Parents like him are increasingly looking for open-minded and subjective learning.
Rahul Pandey's two children study at Ryan International, Faridabad. “I don't want to put pressure on them for high marks. My son is studying for engineering entrance exams and I don't even look at his mark sheet. If a child has the urge for it, he will study hard. If he doesn't, it’s fine,” he said.
Japan may be the country where the sun nevers sets; in Faridabad, it’s the cement that never sets. Residents here predict a bright future for themselves. They see Faridabad becoming the next Noida or Gurgaon. With high quality development in sight, they want their children to be competent enough to be global citizens. And the schools are geared up to meet this challenge.