At almost every corner in east Delhi, there is an apartment building and two kilometres away, a private school. Not all schools are well-known, so discerning parents queue up to put their children in the area's biggies such as Ahlcon International, Salwan Public School or Amity International, located in Mayur Vihar, a place that is east Delhi's educational hub, as it were, with 5 of the 10 Top Ten schools in the area.
The post-metro and post-CWG east Delhi is still playing catch up, with the bigger educational brands (except Ryan and Amity) such as Delhi Public School, Modern School or the Shri Ram schools still not a part of the school circuit here. Though schools here attract students from Noida and Ghaziabad, barring a few names, the rest don't match up to the 'good schools' elsewhere in the city.
According to the results of the 2012 Hindustan Times - C fore Top Schools survey, Ahlcon International leads, ever so slightly, ahead of Salwan Public School in overall scores. While the former shines in categories such as 'extra-curricular activities', 'competence of teachers' and 'value for money', Salwan is the undisputed leader in 'academic rigour', 'sports' and 'individual attention to students' parameters.
Though it is a good 25 points behind the first two, Ahlcon Public School - another branch of the Ahlcon brand - stands third, topping in the 'social accountability' category and scoring second-highest on the 'infrastructure and facilities' parameter.
The two DAV branches, in Dayanand Vihar and Sreshtha Vihar are next in line with a difference of a single point.
Rising in the East
Ashok K Pandey, principal, Ahlcon International, credited his teachers with the school's reputation and the effort put into teacher training.
"We provide in-service training and in-house production of learning materials as well. Our teachers turn into resource people as well, developing additional study material for students," he said. Fifteen Ahlcon International teachers have so far attended programmes abroad while one has won a Fulbright scholarship.
The challenges that schools like Ahlcon face are from another quarter. "The government has till now not given any clear-cut commitment on compensation or the reimbursement of funds under the RTE," added Pandey. For EWS children, the school has made provisions for remedial classes. "Concerns such as whether these kids will bring in a certain kind of language or steal will have to be faced head on without using them as arguments against their inclusion," said the principal.
Most students, per se, have no problems about RTE. But they are sensitive about the question of additional costs to the family. "RTE is our social responsibility. As a society, we should work towards a future where everyone is educated. However, our existing fee structure is quite high. If RTE increases the fees even further, the over-all family budget will be affected," said Kriti Sharan of Class 12, Salwan Public School.
About Comprehensive and Continuous Evaluation (CCE) as prescribed by the CBSE, students are similarly appreciative, but divided in their praise. Palak Gupta, a student of Ahlcon International said CCE should have been introduced "from the beginning or not at all since it hardly takes the pressure off if it is introduced in Class 9." Another student, Vidhushi Sabharwal, said it was "good for average students who could focus on co-curricular activities as academics is not the only thing."
Salwan Public School principal Kiran Mehta, made the same point about CCE saying that "more vocational training should be introduced in schools, to bring out and recognise the latent talents of every child. Every child cannot be an IITian."
The survey was conducted in three phases. Broadly, Central Delhi is represented by the area falling inside the Inner Ring Road. South-East Delhi is separated from South-West Delhi by Aurobindo Marg. In phase-1, schools were invited to provide information on academic and non-academic facilities, performance of students and profile of teachers. Then, research agency C fore shortlisted schools for the second round, in which a perceptual survey was carried out with a sample of 3,000 parents and teachers across the city's six zones. They were asked to assess schools they were aware of on a scale of 10 against 14 parameters. Results of the perceptual survey were combined with objective data from the first round to rank schools. In phase-3, C fore researchers visited the schools to conduct an audit and finalise rankings. Perceptual data scores were extrapolated for schools that did not participate.
Top ten schools in east Delhi