Bright, colourful boards decorated with posters greet you as you walk along the corridors of the red-bricked building of St. Francis De Sales School in Janakpuri.
There are poems, hand-drawn artwork and pictures of world leaders on the walls and the binding theme across boards is ‘commitment’.
“The theme is common across classes 1 to 12. We judge the students’ perception of these values, their team work, creativity and understanding,” said Madhu Singh, English and Geography teacher.
“The themes change every month. Students put in their best, as the best boards are awarded at the end of the year,” she said.
Commitment, teamwork, leadership and honesty are the values that St Francis De Sales School, a Christian institution, wants to encourage in its students.
Best known for its academic rigour, the school also scores high on faculty competence and infrastructure provision in the HT-C fore survey of top schools in West Delhi.
The credit, said principal father Melroy Almeida, goes to the dedicated teaching staff. Some of them have been with the school since it was started in April 1978.
“My life is this school, the children here. I can’t imagine a life without it,” said V Williams, Hindi and Sanskrit teacher who has been with the school for 33 years.
The low attrition rate among the teaching faculty is because of a supportive management.
St. Francis De Sales School, Janakpuri
Numbers: 2,800 students, 94 teachers
Academic rigour: The toppers of Class 10 and 12 for 2008-09 scored 95.4 per cent and 94.4 per cent, respectively.
Admission cost: Fee at the time of admission is Rs 28, 881 annually (approximately). The school is open to students of Class 1 and above.
“There is very little interference from the management in our everyday work,” said Sharda Nayar, science teacher who has been with the school for 32 years. “This kind of a positive working environment helps us deliver better and helps create a great work atmosphere.”
Nayar will retire in six months.
Father Almeida said the school discipline was one area that has scope for improvement.
“But when I compare our students with those from several other schools, I feel our children are not that bad,” he said.
The school even experiments with ways to instill discipline. “One such example is penalising them for indiscipline with small sums like Rs 5 or Rs. 10, which we expect them to pay from their pocket money.”
The school also scores the highest in the category of moral and social values. It inspires its students in various ways to contribute to society.
The school also runs classes for the economically weaker section in the afternoon. On occasions like Christmas, Diwali or the School Feast Day, the students interact with these children and exchange gifts.
“The integrative approach of the school aims to get every student rooted in God with a sensitive, ethical and a morally refined heart,” said Father Almeida. “The students should learn compassion. They should respond to the needs of the society.”
The school also organises visits to the Blind Relief Association and old age homes to sensitise students about social problems.
Catching ’em young for mission ‘green’
Rusheel Agarwal, a class 9 student of St Francis De Sales, was awarded a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh for his environment-friendly project on electricity generation from hydraulic power.
Rusheel got hands on training and guidance at Haritama, an eco-friendly club of the St Francis De Sales School. The school takes pride in its eco-friendly club, Haritama. Students are initiated into working on environment-friendly projects from as early as class 1.
The lush green campus of the school is just a reminder of its efforts. A display board reminds everyone to reduce, reuse and recycle things.
“We started Haritama in 1997. And perhaps, we were the first school in Delhi to have a nature club,” said Father Melroy Almeida.
The eco club is recognised by the Delhi government’s Department of Environment. “The department also gives us grants to carry out our activities,” said Father Almeida.
The school encourages activities like tree plantation and distribution of free saplings. It also has a paper-recycling unit.
“We have activities like role plays, street plays and poster presentations to initiate students into these projects,” said Father Almeida The school makes a conscious effort to encourage healthy eating habits.
Loreto Convent, Parade Road
Students at Loreto Convent earn points for activities like keeping their corridors and classrooms clean, electricity and water conservation, etc.
At a glance
Numbers: 1,550 students, 64 teachers
Academic rigour: Toppers of Classes 10 and 12 for 2008-09 scored 95 per cent and 94 per cent, respectively
No. of nursery admits: 100
Nursery cost: Rs 1,350 per month
“We have a unique credit system in which the class earns or loses points. The students learn to work like a team,” said A. Davies, the school principal.
Loreto Convent does not believe in restricting students to textbooks. The emphasis is on value-based education.
“While we would like our girls to be leaders in the academic field, we want them to have strong moral values too,” said Davies.
Issues of discipline are dealt with differently.
“We don’t publicly punish a child for cheating or stealing. We convey our message to the child by role playing the incident and talking about related issues in the class,” she said.
The school takes pride in being a poly-bag free zone. They are also working towards reducing the use of aluminum foil in tiffin boxes.
The school also does not believe in ranking students on the basis of academic performances.
Mount St. Mary's, Delhi Cantt
Mount St. Mary’s scores high on academic rigour in the survey and it is easy to see why.
At a glance
Numbers: 1,800 students, 85 teachers
Academic rigour: The toppers of Classes 10 and 12 for 2008-09 scored 92.8 per cent and 91.8 per cent, respectively. Nursery cost: Annual cost of prep Rs 27,624
No. of nursery admits (prep): 40-42 students
Apart from the usual mid-term and final exams, there are 20-mark tests every fortnight. The students are marked on the basis of surprise tests and PowerPoint presentations, assignments and regular homework.
“Regular study done consistently over a period of four to five years gets children into the habit of learning things on their own,” said Principal Rev. Brother Dominic Jacob. “Nearly 50 per cent of the marks are reserved for internal assessment.”
Infrastructure provisions of the school, which was established in 1963, are among the best in the zone.
There are four synthetic tennis courts, two basketball courts, two full-size football fields, four cricket nets and a swimming pool. It has an air-conditioned auditorium that can seat 1,500.
The school reserves 70 per cent seats for children of the defence personnel. A fixed number of seats are also set aside for Catholics.