The chalk and blackboard, brothers-in-arms for many years, have reached the end of the road in many Gurgaon schools, it would seem. With 'smart' (electronic) boards in almost every class, teaching has been brought to life, sometimes quite literally.
With over 100 schools, Gurgaon has, over the past decade, set the standards of education among Delhi's suburbs.
The 2011 HT- C Fore National Capital Region (NCR) Top School Survey, conducted across schools in the region, graded them according to 14 parameters- from academic rigour and infrastructure to social accountability and the use of innovative teaching methods. The top ten schools in Gurgaon are unchanged from last year, with well known names
such as The Shri Ram School, Aravali (TSRS) and Delhi Public School, Gurgaon rubbing shoulders with schools with innovative teaching styles, such as Shikshantar and Heritage.
The area's DAV Public School, Sector 14 came out on top in the score for the ‘academic rigour’ parameter while TSRS got top honours in ‘extra-curricular activities’. The Heritage school did well according to the survey, bagging the highest score in the ‘infrastructure’ as well as 'individual attention to students' categories.
In today's schools, infrastructure, sports facilities, individual attention to students, ‘life skills’ education etc are all considered equally important by parents who are pouring in money and time into their children's education. And Gurgaon schools are delivering.
With the government also recognising that effective usage of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the classroom is correlated to positive academic outcomes (including higher test scores), many schools have adopted innovative new teaching methods to meet such demands. The medium of books is simply not enough in a city where each child is becoming tech-savvy. Many schools are even bringing Ipads/ tablet PC's to aid learning. Some even use computer-based adaptive self learning programmes in various subjects which allow students to learn at their own pace.
“In a changing world, if we teach children today the way we were taught yesterday, we rob them of tomorrow. Ten years from now, when they graduate from schools, they will need different skills than we did,” says Bindu Rana, R&D head at Educomp, an education services company that uses ICT in its products.
Increasing use of technology also means that teachers need regular training. “Professional development of teachers to keep up quality standards is a must,” she adds.
Uma Diwan , a social science teacher at Salwan Public school, has been in the profession for over 30 years."When I joined Salwan five years ago, my teaching methodology underwent a sea change. Globalisation had already set in and teaching in a city like Gurgaon means meeting the expectations of all the stakeholders in education," she says.
Parents, however, are looking for all-round development of their child.
"Despite growth, negative things such as traffic and congestion have also increased. When I went to school years ago, the bags were lighter and homework was less. The current system puts a lot of stress on the kids in terms of marks, hindering the natural development of the child." says Vijay Mehta, whose daughter is a student at TSRS. And its not just the pressures of high cut-offs that worry students. With the huge increase in demand for quality education, the schools system is struggling to ensure availability for all. Sky high fees are the result.
“The infrastructure and activity-based approach is good, but I don't see much of a difference from what we learnt in our day. The cost is 1000 times greater. Despite our 'millennium' city tag, we lack basic infrastructure like parks where our children can play. Instead, we need to get sports-club memberships," says Subhashis Sinha, a resident of
Gurgaon for over 11 years, summing up the change.