The student looks straight into the camera. Her face and voice are being beamed across scores of television screens. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the morning news at Podar International School in Santacruz.
This broadcast, summing up school news as well as world news, was created as an activity of the school's media club for the first time this term.
"It was done very professionally," said Vandana Lulla, the school's principal. "There are so many professions children can get into, they need to develop various skills."
Schools have always boasted of providing extra-curricular options, but the range of activities being offered has expanded massively in the past few years. For instance, the Ryan group of schools this year introduced dance classes including jazz, salsa and ball dancing. The Billabong schools offer these activities as well. At DG Khetan International School in Malad, students can play regular sports, but also throw themselves into aerobics. At Oberoi International School in Goregaon, apart from the regular fare, facilities include an indoor rock climbing wall and an adventure obstacle course.
EuroSchool in Airoli has recently introduced a heritage club in addition to the already-existing astronomy and maths clubs. Reading clubs are proliferating, as are subject-specific clubs and nature clubs. At HVB Academy in Marine Lines, students learn Vedic math while the abacus is the mathematical novelty of choice at various other schools .
"Parents are anxious for their children to do many things and want to focus on their all-round development," said Kavita Aggarwal, principal of DG Khetan. "We are catering to this in school itself."
Schools follow different formats - while some integrate all the extra-curriculars during school hours, others offer post-school or weekend slots. In many cases, these are outsourced to external agencies or coaches.
With a boom in the education space and scores of international schools joining the scene, the idea of education has evolved. "The scenario is changing," said Seema Buch, principal of Gundecha Education Academy in Kandivli, which offers various new dance forms. "Earlier the focus was different, now the focus is on developing other skills."
Among schools, the competition to provide better services and differentiate themselves from the rest is high.
Self-defence skills and martial arts have also risen on the agenda when it comes to new sporting options. The Diamond Jubilee School near Dongri is planning to start judo class this year while Gundecha Education Academy offers karate and conducts compulsory self-defence and judo training for classes 8, 9 and 10.
In the past few years, schools have also actively started to encourage financial literacy and an understanding of business and entrepreneurship among students. At Singhania School in Thane, middle school students learn about budgeting and investing. While the Junior Achievement programme works with several city schools on basic financial concepts, in some schools students have even started businesses of their own to understand how they operate.