Lovely Sharma and her husband Rajiv had moved to Delhi from Patna. One of their concerns as they adjusted to the demands of a new city and made new friends was to find the right school for their five-year-old son Arjit.
“We had no option but to go for Ahlcon Public School that year,” said Lovely Sharma, who now runs a play school and holds abacus classes. “The form submissions in all schools were over. Only Ahlcon was left. So, we went with it.”
That was 11 years ago. Arjit is now in Class 12. In all these years, never did she think about pulling Arjit out and put him in another school.
“He was doing well and the school was also doing well. So, we never really thought of pulling him out,” she said.
The findings of the HT-C fore survey of east Delhi schools puts Ahlcon on the top of the list. Among the categories in which the school scores the highest are co-curricular activities, moral and social values and competence of faculty.
“Only academic success is not our vision for the students. They must be successful in life,” said R.K. Sharma, the principal of the school and founder member of the institution.
The school, spread over 3.54 acres of land, runs from a three-storey building with 83 classrooms, six science laboratories, an auditorium and 24 activity rooms. There is a robotic lab, a math laboratory and even foreign language labs.
“We teach French and are planning to hold German and Japanese classes too,” Sharma said.
Anubhuti Goel, an alumna of the school, who is pursuing a course in mass communication from Amity University, said the school helped her build self-confidence. “There are a lot of co-curricular activities happening. But I would really love to see more sports and better infrastructure,” she said.
Sandwiched between residential buildings of Mayur Vihar Phase-I, the school started in tents at the same place in September 1988.
“It was recognised in 1989,” said Sharma. With passing years, Ahlcon groomed itself to represent the aspirations of the upwardly mobile middle-class population of east Delhi, which was educated and demanded facilities on a par with the more developed localities of the national capital such as south and central.
“The pressure of admission is too much,” said Sharma. “If it was 300 forms in the initial years, now we receive over 3,000 forms for nursery admissions.” The school, Sharma said, takes students only from Yamuna par (trans-Yamuna portion of Delhi).
“Sometimes there are requests from parents from other parts, but we have to decline because transportation becomes a problem for both the students and the school,” he said.
There is a parallel school that offers free education to children from the deprived section.
The initiative, called the priority wing, brings the students on a par with the regular students and merges them with the mainstream classes.
1) Partying hard at clubs in Ahlcon Public school
Ahlcon Public School puts a lot of stress on co-curricular activities. The school has a number of activity groups such as the eco club, the disaster club and the heritage club.
The students often form their own societies and organise events or work to improve the school.
“There are 120 activities for 140 days of school,” said R.K. Sharma, the principal. “They must get hands on experience, build confidence to prepare for life ahead.” For Siddhant Gupta of Class 12, the best thing about the school is the space he and his friends get to interact with other students. “We have so many activities. They help us interact with each other.”
“We had a library club that the students themselves had formed,” said Devanshu Mishra, a student of Class 11 and someone who likes literary activities. Though with some of the students having passed out, the club is no longer active, but the changes it brought about in the library are still visible.
The commerce club, which is again an all-students’ initiative, organises many activities. “We students do everything. We organise many events, some of which are even inter-school affairs,” said Arjit Sharma, the school’s vice-captain. “Unless you get down to organising everything yourself, you don’t know how much effort it takes to manage everything,” he said.
2) Salwan School, mayur vihar
Academic rigour: Toppers of Classes 10 and 12 for 2008-09 scored 93.6 per cent and 90.4 per cent, respectively
No. of nursery admits: 108
Nursery cost: Rs. 15,000 one-time development fee, Rs 200 admission fee, Rs 5,070 tuition fee per quarter and Rs 765 development changes per quarter
A vibrant cultural exchange programme is the hallmark of Salwan Public School that also sends its teachers and students on foreign trips. It organised an art exhibition last year at the Indira Gandhi national Centre for Art for its students to encourage budding artists.
“We put a lot of emphasis on co-curricular activities and push students to realise their best. At the same time, we also want our students to be conscious of their responsibility towards the planet,” said principal Kiran Mehta, pointing towards a special magazine on sustainability and environment that the school has put together.
Hands-on training is given a lot of emphasis. For instance, a group of Class 9 students are learning about how a car runs. “Now I know everything about a car. I can also change tyres and know the different tools to use in case of an emergency,” said student Rishab Singhal.
3) Amity School, Mayur Vihar
Academic rigour: First Class 10 batch will appear for boards in 2010
Admission cost: Rs 57,394 per year, including admission fees. Starts from Class 1 and takes students from Amity International School, Noida
It’s only three years old, but Amity International School, Mayur Vihar, has won over parents and students by providing a host of opportunities to students.
With a theme-based approach to studying, the teachers endeavour to make learning an enjoyable experience for children.
“We sit down with each teacher as they prepare the lesson plan and also suggest improvements. The planning is done ahead of each class,” said Mona Rastogi, vice-principal of the senior wing.
Constructed on just 1.5 acres of land, Rastogi said the school had made good use of the space.
“The flooring has been done to enable student to practice skating,” said Rastogi. Students, most of whom have come from other schools, said personal attention they got here was better. “The focus on academics is not maddening and we are encouraged to do our thing,” said Shashank Khanna, a student of Class 8.