Residents of Delhi might think that west Delhi is just about malls and multiplexes, but the rise of huge residential colonies such as Dwarka in the region has meant that the area is slowly becoming home to several good schools too.
That doesn’t mean that west Delhi didn’t have good schools earlier. In fact, before the concept of neighbourhood schools caught up with rest of the city, west Delhi was known for some of the city’s finest neighbourhood schools. St Francis de Sales School and Mira Model School in Janakpuri are two such examples.
“These schools were, and continue to be, as good as any top school of south and central Delhi,” said Rajan Arora, an alumnus of Mira Model School and founder of nurseryadmissions.com. “These schools have all necessary facilities, (but) they never cared to market themselves.”
However, these schools did manage to keep pace with time. “We have been constantly upgrading our infrastructure,” said Father Melroy Almeida, principal, St Francis de Sales School established in 1978 in Janakpuri.
“The biggest challenge for us has been to stick to our core values of imparting high quality education in the new social and economic milieu. What has helped us though is that many of our teachers have been with us since the day the school was established,” he said.
St. Francis de Sales School, which like last year has emerged as the number one school in the HT-C fore survey of west Delhi schools this year too, continues to be a hot favourite with local residents.
Hans Raj Model School, one of the oldest schools in west Delhi and known for its value-based curriculum, is another favourite. “There were few schools in west Delhi when I joined Hans Raj 32 years ago,” said Rita Rajen Kumar, principal, Hans Raj Model School.
“In those days most of our students came from business families of west Delhi but today we have students from both business and professional class. Our students still touch the feet of their teachers as a mark of respect,” Kumar said. Until a few years ago, because there were such few schools in the area, parents who wanted to send their children to branded schools had no option but to consider schools in south and central Delhi. However, because of the demand for good schools from Dwarka, there are better schools in the area now. Dwarka boasts of several new-age schools belonging to well-known school brands. Some of these schools have built huge campuses and world-class infrastructure. It comes as little surprise then that as many as four schools from Dwarka have made it to the list of top 10 schools from west Delhi.
In fact, schools such as DPS Dwarka, which came to Dwarka in the year 2000, and Bal Bharti School, which opened its branch in Dwarka in 2001, are now attracting children from several other west Delhi colonies as well.
“When we set up our branch in Dwarka, the sub-city was just coming up and even roads were not properly laid,” said Suruchi Gandhi, principal, Bal Bharti School, Dwarka. Easy availability of land in Dwarka helped some of these schools build impressive campuses and infrastructure.
DPS, Dwarka, which started with 523 students in 1996, used to operate out of DPS RK Puram and DPS Vasant Kunj before shifting to its present building in Dwarka. However, hardly any school in west Delhi can match the infrastructure DPS Dwarka has now.
Though there was a time when residents of west Delhi sent their children to schools in south Delhi, the trend has reversed now. So impressive are some of the schools of west Delhi that they have begun to attract students from not only south Delhi but also from Gurgaon.
High on academic rigour: St Francis de Sales School
Its red brick building exudes an old world charm. Its green campus, dotted with Ashoka trees, boasts of big, airy classrooms. Ever since it was started in 1978, St Francis de Sales School in Janakpuri has been known for its high academic standards and discipline. No wonder then that the school scores high on academic rigour, competence of teachers, and social accountability.
The school, which had a humble beginning in tents with about 117 students, continues to be one of the most sought-after schools in west Delhi. “Over the last three decades we have continuously upgraded our infrastructure, but our core strength continues to be our focus on academics and discipline,” said father Melroy Almeida, principal of the school. “We also instill in our students a sense of compassion and responsibility towards the society.”
The school also puts a lot of emphasis on environment-related activities and has a paper recycling unit and a water-harvesting system. It has been declared as one of the leading schools for its eco-club activities by the department of environment, government of Delhi.
The school’s website even uploads practice question papers for students of classes 10 and 12. Sahoday, the alumni association of the school, is a very active committee and organises an alumni meet on the second Saturday of February every year.
As a socially responsible association, Sahoday organises a health check-cum-blood donation camp in August every year, and also allocates a certain amount from its funds for paying the school fees of children incapable of paying the same.
Adapting to new changes: DPS, Dwarka
There are very few schools in west Delhi that can match the infrastructure and facilities DPS, Dwarka, offers.
Spread over 10 acres, the school boasts of a huge cricket ground and a football ground. In fact, the school scores highest among all schools in the category of infrastructure and facilities. But that’s not the only thing this school is known for. It also scores high in the field of competence of teachers and life skills education, and invests greatly in teacher training programmes. “We believe that performance of our students is the performance of our teachers,” said Sunita Tanwar, principal DPS Dwarka. “Our teachers continuously upgrade their skills and adapt to new trends and changes in school education.”
The school, whose curriculum is harmonious blend of academics, sports and extra curricular activities, also gives individual attention to students a lot of importance. A lot of emphasis is laid on play, activities and projects. For students of pre-primary and primary classes, small expeditions, movie shows and nature walks are organised.
“At our school, children are not just roll numbers,” said Tanwar.
“Our students are taught to be accountable for themselves and we teach them how to treat every mistake as an opportunity.” The school’s co-curricular activities include dance, music, theatre, painting and yoga. It has two libraries — one for the primary wing and the other one for the senior wing.
Modern & traditional blend: Hansraj Model School
Hansraj Model School was established in 1966. It is one of the oldest and the most sought-after schools in west Delhi. According to the principal Rita Rajen Kumar, the value-based curriculum that blends modern knowledge and technology with the country’s cultural values is what is unique about the school. The school scores high on social accountability.
“In the last four decades the school has changed drastically in terms of infrastructure and facilities,” said Kumar. “Our value system is based on the ideals of Vedic culture, which we have followed from day one.”
The school also has an impressive sports infrastructure and that is the reason it scores way ahead of other schools in the category of sports. The sport facilities at the school include a cricket ground, a football ground, a basketball court, gymnasium, lawn tennis courts and a swimming pool. The school, spread over seven acres, provides facilities for more than a dozen sports and has produced over 50 national players and several international players.
The school website has something called Virtual school, wherein, assignments, exam schedules, inter-class activities and even food plans for all the classes are uploaded.