Beyond the game of catch-up Faridabad's schools play with Delhi's ivy-league, another competition is underway. Who among them will be on top or at least stand out and be counted among its quality institutions?
The stress on excellence has made Faridabad's schools rapidly emerge as one of the centres of education in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The areas of competition are marked out. The best schools have upped their spend in the educational arena with advanced, up-to-date facilities, wide-ranging co-curricular activities and curricula that have increasingly embraced e-education.
The 2013 edition of the HT C-fore Top Schools Survey is a reflection of Faridabad's sustained efforts not to be left behind in the evolving educational landscape.
A rising star in Faridabad's list of eminent institutions is Modern Vidya Niketan (MVN) in Sector 17. MVN has reached the summit from the 3rd place in last year's survey — a remarkable leap thanks to its excellent scores in 'competence of teachers' and 'academic rigour' categories. The school's other branch at Aravali, with its sprawling campus, also finds a place in the top ten.
Delhi Public School (DPS) slips to the second position, yet keeps the lead in 'teacher development' and 'infrastructure and facilities' parameters. Its key priority seems to have been a sustained investment in teacher training and in creating innovative test papers in order to ensure standards of excellence.
The school's well-equipped campus has invested in extra-curricular activities.
Modern DPS whose primary focus, said its teachers is "skill-building and personality development rather than textual literacy", has excelled in 'academic rigour' and 'competence of teachers' while maintaining its steady record in 'safety and hygiene.' The school has risen from rank 4 in the 2012 survey to tie with DPS at second place this year.
A multifaceted growth is the common factor among the top ten. Apeejay School, for instance, has topped in 'life skills education', delivering a myriad of quality-driven educational courses ranging from journalism to calligraphy, gardening to drama.
A social conscience
Faridabad's schools believe in giving back to the community. MVN, for instance, is driven by a genuine sense of community spirit. Its high scores in the 'individual attention' parameter, and the stress on building students' characters through a plethora of experiences, enhance their exposure to reality.
"We encourage our children to be empathetic. Our students pitch in with the school we have opened for the underprivileged, especially for the children of widows of Khambi village," said Archna Rapat, school counsellor.
Ranking seventh for two consecutive years, Eicher School has excellent academic standards and also believes in inclusive education. It puts emphasis on community-driven initiatives making its children aware, open and responsive to the needs of others.
Prior to the inception of RTE, the school was already in the process of bridging social disparities by admitting children with special needs, endorsed by an active body of devoted, specialised assistants.
"We offer a learning environment free from fear", said its principal. All children, regardless of any disability or the economic background they come from, sit in the same classes. Special after-school activities enhance the interaction between students from different backgrounds.
"We share lunch with the rural children living in a neighbouring village," said Shivendra Mishra of Class 12.
Manav Rachna International School in the 5th place has outshone the top three in 'innovative teaching', 'individual attention to students' and 'extra-curricular' activities.
It also tries to inculcate a sense of citizenship and social responsibility among its students. "My visit, for instance, to NGO Prabhat was a true eye-opener," said Shivam Madan, Class 12.
On the issue of RTE, principal, Mamata Wadhwa said the school supports underprivileged children with extra classes on Saturdays. Its students also give English classes and spread awareness about health and environment in the leper community adjacent to the school.