They are all lined up, well dressed and nervous. They have taken the day off for this.
They are all parents standing outside the office of the person who co-ordinates nursery admissions at Father Agnel Multipurpose School in Vashi.
As the anxious parents enter the room of the co-ordinator Neena Jacob, she casually welcomes them and tries to put an apprehensive child at ease. A chocolate does the trick and the child is soon shaking hands with her.
“We don’t interview the child,” said Jacob, who has worked at the school for the past 23 years. “It is unfair to judge a child, so we have instituted a lottery system. We just want to meet the parents and child as a formality. Even in the lottery system, we ensure that there is a healthy mix of boys and girls as well as of different social and economic backgrounds.”
It is this open-mindedness that sets Father Agnel Multipurpose School —one of the oldest schools in Navi Mumbai — apart from many others.
A typical classroom has special children, children from the orphanage run by the school trust, children of working parents who are professional as well as of the elite business class. “We never turn anyone away,” said Jacob.
The school began 27 years ago with the aim of accepting all children who did not get admissions anywhere else. Today, it follows the same policy and is still the most popular school despite several others coming up.
The school is also known for its sports facilities and several of its alumni are national and international level sportspersons.
Parents appreciate the fact that the school lets the child grow and find his or her own direction.
“They let my child be. Also, when I see children from Mumbai I realise how much more grounded my son is because his class has a mix of all social and economic backgrounds,” said Usha Krishnamurthy a homemaker whose son is in class 10.
“The school is like a community and everyone knows my son,” she added. “I never have to worry about him.”