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HindustanTimes Wed,03 Sep 2014

Noida’s target: conscious citizens

Zehra Kazmi , Hindustan Times   September 11, 2013
First Published: 22:45 IST(11/9/2013) | Last Updated: 22:54 IST(11/9/2013)

Boomtown Noida seems to check all the boxes when it comes to enviable infrastructure — expressways, high-rises, glitzy malls, hospitals and of course, schools dotting its landscape. With Greater Noida developing rapidly, Delhi’s eastern suburb is all set to grow at an even faster pace and may even eclipse millennium city Gurgaon.

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The residential boom in Greater Noida has led to more schools being established there. Delhi Public School, Ryan International, Somerville, Vishwa Bharti, Apeejay – all the big boys of Noida education already have branches in Greater Noida. In the coming years, these schools will completely alter the education scenario of the city. But till they prove their mettle, Noida schools which have already made their mark find a place in the 2013 HT- C fore Top Schools Survey.

Step by Step School tops the charts third year in a row, acing the teacher care and development, individual attention to students and extra-curricular activities parameters among others, though with its steep fee, it lags behind significantly in the value for money category.

Schools in Noida are arming students with knowledge to ensure that they become aware citizens who are mindful of social issues. (Prem Bisht/HT photo)

Amity International and Delhi Public School are tied at the number two spot, with the former ruling the roost in academics, while the latter tops the social accountability and value for money parameters. With its lavish infrastructure, spread out over 12.5 acres, Lotus Valley School on the Taj Expressway reserves the fourth spot for itself.

Somerville School, Noida, with an over-all fifth rank, has scored the best on the value system and integration parameter, attaining the second position in academic rigour as well. “Our effort is always to make children sensitive to those who have less than them. Value education is part of the syllabus in every way,” said Nalini Arul Raj, principal of the school.

Not only moral education, schools now recognise that they are tasked with imparting much more than the regulation academic skills or co-curricular activities. Healthy discussions and workshops on current issues, especially those which have a direct bearing on the students’ well-being are the norm at most Noida schools. “We have assemblies, workshops and counselling sessions to ensure that our children become conscious citizens,” said Nidhi Sirohi, principal, Kothari International School.

The Internet conundrum

Part of making children ‘concious citizens’ involves warning them against dangers that lurk around — and as both schools and parents are finding out, the internet can be one of them. Online abuse and bullying have become a common problem and there is a need to teach students to become good ‘digital citizens’ as well. Students depend heavily on the internet for their homework and while schools understand that access cannot be denied, but it should be moderated. “We caution them about the harm in writing and posting pictures on Facebook indiscriminately and ask the school council members to talk to their peers,” said Raj.

At Kothari International School, a notice board has been done up by the students on internet addiction and social media etiquette. ‘Logging out is the most difficult tab to click’, it proclaims. Aishik Majumder, a class 10th student at the school, says he doesn’t spend that much time online. “But if I spend too much time on my laptop or if I use the phone a lot to talk or text friends, my parents make it a point to ask me for an explanation,” he said.

In the past few months, ‘confession’ pages on social media sites — where users anonymously write about each other — became all the rage in schools. Not only schools, specific classrooms within schools too had confession pages dedicated to them, so widespread was the fad. As is the case with most anonymous internet activity, most messages were negative. “I noticed how most people wrote comments criticising something or somebody,” says Rhea Martha Benny, a Class 11 Somerville student. “If you want to say something, say it openly, not anonymously on some online forum.”

Parents, of course, have a greater role to play in this since students spend most of the time surfing the net at home or on their phones. Some schools have also issued advisories to parents, telling them to sit with their children when they use the computer or not to buy them smart phones. “Parents can’t become too liberal and expect us to do all the disciplining,” said Raj.

Of course, technology may have its pitfalls but it has revolutionised teaching too. Students swear by smart classes and interactive lessons. “You can see 3D maps and it’s much more discussion based. Smart classes have taken studying to another level altogether,” beams Benny.

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