Year after year, satellite towns such as Thane outshine the city in the board exams as their schools produce phenomenal scores.
Mumbai is supposed to house the best schools and colleges, but students from Thane are the ones who figure on top of the merit list.
“Most students in Thane come from homes with professional parents,” said Raviti Shrinivasan, principal, Sulochana Devi Singhania, Thane, which produce last year’s all-India ICSE topper.
“These homes emphasise academics more than in the average home because there is no family businesses to fall back on,” she said. “All these students want to get into professional courses and sit for competitive exams, so scores are important to them and their families.”
The demography of Thane has also changed over the past decade, with the education-oriented middle class, priced out of Mumbai’s real estate market, moving there. Alternative education and experimenting does not come easily, even though the economic environment has changed to accommodate a larger range of professions than before. Academics are still paramount. Marks are crucial.
Thane students also find a drastic difference in their attitudes and those of Mumbai students. Janki Seth, the ICSE topper, moved from Thane to Andheri last year and has encountered a whole new student mindset.
“The culture of studying is different in these parts,” said the 17-year-old. “In Thane, students are a lot more hard working and don’t get distracted easily. Also, many students don’t come from very affluent backgrounds, so since childhood it has been drilled into them that academics is the only way up.”
Schools in Thane, like S.V. Doshi High School, which frequently produces merit list holders, have special training techniques. This school picks 15 students to form an elite group that is specially trained for the boards as part of its Gun Vardhini Yojana (Marks Improvement Scheme).
But is this academic edge all-important for success in one’s career? Not according to J.M. Abhyankar, former chairperson of the Mumbai SSC and HSC board.
“In Mumbai, students have a more well-rounded personality,” he said. “They might not have the best scores, but their communication skills and exposure and extracurricular activities give them an edge.”