The Ghaziabad educational ‘scene’ is a case of the best getting the cream, the rest getting the crumbs. The top schools have on-campus swimming pools, speciality-sports courses, academics with foreign tours. The rest, follow old chalk-and-talk methods, rote learning and an academics-only curriculum. Even the top 10 lag behind the good schools elsewhere in the NCR region, forcing many middle-class parents, especially in areas such as Indirapuram and Vaishali, to pick schools of Noida and Delhi for their children.
The Top 10 also has room for improvement and has tried to plug their weak areas. In the 2012 HT-C fore Top School Survey for Ghaziabad, Delhi Public School Ghaziabad (DPSG) retains its lead, topping in various categories such as ‘academic rigour’ and improving last year’s record in ‘extra-curricular activities’ and ‘sports’. Holy Child bests last year’s score climbing to top place in the ‘value for money’ category. Uttam School tops in the ‘individual attention’ category, one that is closely watched by most parents.An emerging trend is that Ghaziabad’s best schools are now offering a choice of subjects so children have begun to change one Ghaziabad school for the other mid-way, for the sake of subject specialisations. For example, Kirtikar, a student, joined DPSG in Class 11 because he wanted to take up a course in history and his earlier school did not offer it. Did he then consider joining a school in Delhi? "It didn’t make sense to waste 2-3 hours on travel, especially when the schools here are as good," he said.
A student of Ryan International till Class 8, Suhani Gupta is another ‘transfer student’. She joined Uttam School For Girls in Class 9. “The previous school, in my opinion, has started to believe in quantity over quality,” said Suhani’s father, Sandeep Gupta.
Students & parents’ wants
Shwet, a student of Silverline School, said he was happy to be in a school that did not just focus on academics but also on extra-curricular activities. Students claimed the school’s special care towards activities outside of coursework showed them the way towards taking “small steps to change society by knowing about and changing the environment”.
Sheersh Kapoor, another Silverline student, said the school’s competitive spirit helped him to be “bold”. His mother, Benu Kapoor, a teacher herself, said she appreciated the way the school did not treat its “extra-curricular competitions as something to be done and got over with”.
Principals said parents nowadays want the moon. Playschools have indirectly played a part in fostering Ghaziabad’s new culture of choice. There are now at least 25-30 playschools in urban Ghaziabad where children get an early exposure to an ‘exclusive’ environment. “Academics, English and foreign-language fluency, sports and extra-curricular activities, career counselling, global exchange programmes and a confident child — schools have to deliver it all,” said Jyoti Gupta, principal, DPSG.
What schools want
The area some of Ghaziabad’s best schools are left wanting in, is the locality. Some schools have open drains right outside their premises or a factory or two in their neighbourhood. Traffic jams are common.
All this may change, said Jyoti Gupta, if transport links are improved. “The moment Hindon Bridge comes up, we won’t have traffic jams on Meerut Road,” she said. The Metro is another big hope. “Once that starts, we will get teachers from Noida and Delhi,” she added.