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The fine art of teaching

Nes International lays as much emphasis on cultural activities as it does on academics

india Updated: Nov 19, 2009 10:59 IST
HT Correspondent

Mumbai: A few kilometres from the Mulund railway station, facing a small hill range called Malabar Hill stands a chrome-glass fortress called NES International School.

Every morning, hundreds of students donning blazers stream through the building’s automatic doors into its airconditioned interior. The building’s four storeys are built over an atrium, and ithas two underground levels. Designed to maximise the use of
natural light, the classrooms accommodate a maximum of 20 students, in keeping with what the school believes is the ideal student-teacher ratio.

The first floor, which houses the kindergarten classes, has glass walls splattered with paintings done by the tiny students. These classrooms have padded floors, and the furniture’s edges have been blunted to ensure the safety of toddlers. Each floor has a fully equipped science laboratory at the end of the corridor, whose walls are plastered with posters of important historical personalities, accompanied by biographical notes.

A swimming pool and cafeteria are being constructed, but the basement already has a play zone, which has a jungle gym for nursery students. One floor has an indoor football zone, a cricket pitch and an optic golf course, the last being a simulated version of the sport that uses digital motion sensors.

With a 100 per cent passing record so far, NES International School feels the secret to its success lies in the balance it achieves between academics and cultural studies, which includes rigorous training in art and a variety of musical instruments.

NES International School Mumbai is one of 47 institutions founded by the National Education Society, established in 1983 and now catering to 26,000 students around the country.
Started in 2004 with 17 students in a small makeshift building in Bhandup, the NES International School today caters to more than 370 students studying in a fivestoreyed air-conditioned building in Mulund.

In 2004, the school added the International Baccalaureate and the Cambridge International Examination boards.

Institutions associated with the Society cater to students from all socio-economic backgrounds.

Best Practices

Parents can attend language, yoga and optic golf classes, along with the school’s students.

Each class has a digital projector, and all classroom activity is recorded for future reference.

Basic Statistics

Fees: These range from Rs 65,000 for the playgroup to Rs 3 lakh a year for the IB programme.
Student-teacher ratio: 15:1 and 20:1
Classes: Nursery to class 12
Board: IGCSE till class 10 and IB for classes 11 and 12
Admissions procedure: Application forms and friendly interaction with parents and students.
Facilities and extra-curricular activities: Optic golf (simulation of the sport through digital technology and motion sensors), indoor cricket, indoor basketball, football, hockey, table tennis, indoor skating, swimming, adventure sports, paramilitary training, yoga and meditation. The school has on-house psychologists for parents and students and special tutors for the academically weak. It also has a club to keep children of working parents busy after classes.

2. Children’s Academy, Malad

Fees: Rs 800 a month for the SSC section and Rs 1,600 a month for the ICSE division;
Student-teacher ratio: 60:1 (SSC) and 40:1 (ICSE); Classes: Nursery (age 2.5 years) to class 10; Board: LKG, UKG, class 1 (ICSE only), classes 2 to 5 (ICSE and SSC), classes 6 to 10 (SSC only); Admissions procedure: Applicants must fill forms.

Started in 1970 by V.V. Bhatt in a two-room rented premise with 30 students, the first branch of Children’s Academy now has more than 5,000 students. The founder’s eldest son, Rohan Bhatt, is the principal of the Malad school, the largest of the three branches in the city. Over the past three years, all branches have been in the process of shifting their curricula from the SSC to the ICSE board. This move was prompted by parents’ demands for an organised curriculum and better quality books.

3. Children’s Academy, Kandivli – Ashok Nagar

Fees: Rs 800 per month (SSC) and Rs 1,600 per month (ICSE);
Student-teacher ratio: 60:1 (SSC) and 40:1 (ICSE);
Classes: nursery (age 2.5 years onwards) to class 10;
Board: LKG, UKG, class 1 (ICSE only), classes 2 to 6 (ICSE and SSC), classes 7 to 10 (SSC only); Admissions procedure: Applicants must fill forms.

The Ashok Nagar school, the second branch of Children’s Academy, was set up in 1990 with 300 students. Over the past 19 years it has grown to cater to 3,000 students. Like the other two branches, this school too is going through the process of shifting from the SSC to the ICSE board. Rohit Bhatt, the school’s principal and a son of the school’s founder V. V. Bhatt, said that despite changes over the years, the spirit of the school has been kept intact. “Providing quality education at an affordable price has always been our motivation,” said Bhatt, who claims that parents choose his school because of its reasonable fees and its facilities. Children’s Academy has installed 29-inch television screens and a laptop in each class.

Interview, R Vardarajan, principal

‘We do not believe in allowing a child to fail in any way’

What is your institution’s educational philosophy?

Each student develops differently, and it is our job to ensure that his or her individuality remains intact through the years. We do not believe in allowing a child to “fail” in any way.

The words “failure” and “defeat” will not be used for any child. We encourage direct interaction in classrooms , and believe in treating each student individually.

What are the school’s future plans?
At the Mulund premise, we will begin working on an international degree college that will occupy an additional seven floors. The college will provide degrees from the UK,Australia and Canada all at one place, so that Indian children can avail of such education from a common base.

This will become a one-stop shop for all stages of education.

What sets this school apart from others?
We have a balanced and all-round approach to education. All students have to take part in sports. We also give them a lot of responsibility for taking care of their classrooms, arranging group activities and creating new ideas and products. We have also tied up with various nongovernment organisations to ensure that our students can use what they learn to help others.