The school monitors their diets and sleep schedules. Teachers visit their homes on weekends to help them with difficult topics. Previous years’ toppers give them pep talks about how to aim high.
Fifteen select Class X students of Dombivli’s S.V. Joshi High School this year are the beneficiaries of these services and more as part of a rigorous training programme whose sole aim is to produce board exam stars.
The school, which has turned out toppers for the past 17 years, has refined the training regimen over the years, finally formalising it last year under a programme called the ‘Guna Vardhini Yojana’, or ‘Marks improvement scheme’.
“In class 9, we pick 15 students who undergo special training as soon as they enter class 10,” said S.B. Khaire, the principal. “We counsel their parents too about how to support their children and the schedule through the year.”
Last year’s top two rankers were from this elite set. Since 1992, 15 students in all from this school have made it to the top 20 merit list.
These students have extra classes every day and tests every Saturday. Besides the teachers, the principal too visits them at home to solve their doubts.
The school helps them plan their study schedules right to the last minute and chapter. It also calls in experts, including examiners, to talk to the 15 students.
But is this sort of training healthy? “Those who are not chosen might be demoralised,” said Ambreen Pradhan, a child psychologist. “The programme reflects the country’s entire examination system, which is one-dimensional and focuses only on performance.”