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Where the exception is the rule

Father Agnel Multipurpose School turns no student away, believing that diversity holds a lesson in itself

india Updated: Nov 20, 2009 17:20 IST
HT Correspondent

Mumbai: 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 coordinates 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 andeconomic 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.”

The 27-year-old school was established in 1982 by the Agnel Ashram fathers. This was the second school they established; the first one is in Bandra. The fathers belong to the Pilar group of priests who moved from Goa to Mumbai. At that time, there were no schools in the area and the philosophy of the institution was

Best Practices
Inclusive education: The school believes in inclusive education and ensures that every class has a few special children. The schoolalso has resource classes with special educators who help them.

“The other children learn to be sensitive and tolerant. It is beneficial to both,” said Nazia D., a special educator with the school.

To foster integration, the school follows a buddy system, where one child is responsible for a special child. “We identify maturechildren and they help the special needs child with his tasks,” said Nazia

Basic Statistics
Joining fee of Rs 17,000 at the nursery level; a monthly fee of Rs 800 for the
English-medium stream and Rs 700 for the Marathi-medium stream.
Student-teacher ratio: 60:1
Board: SSC

Admissions procedure: Initially by lottery, but the school also ensures diversity.
Facilities and extra-curricular activities: It is building a swimming pool and shooting range, and will be the first school in Navi Mumbai to have one. It already has a football field, throwball and basketball courts and gymnastics facilities. It offers two trips and one trekking expedition to Leh a year.

2. Apeejay School, Nerul

Fees: A one-time joining charge of Rs 38,000, and a quarterly fee of Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000, depending on the class
Student-teacher ratio: 28:1
Classes: Nursery to class 12
Board: CBSE
Admissions procedure: At the nursery level, the school advertises in the newspaper. It calls all parents who apply to come in with their children for an interaction session.

The school was started in 1986 and is one of the first schools in Navi Mumbai that come to mind when you think of the CBSE board. This school participates in all inter-school activities at the national and international level. It is known for its girls’ volleyball team, which has won several accolades.

Its emphasis on sports lead to a tie-up with the British Council for physical education at the primary school level. The school has activity clubs, and students are encouraged to be a part of more than one club. It also regularly trains its faculty to use the latest teaching techniques.

3. Delhi Public School, Nerul
A one-time admission fee of Rs 30,000 and Rs 6,600 per quarter
Student-teacher ratio: 20:1
Classes: Nursery to class 12
Board: CBSE
Admissions procedure: No fixed system. Changes from year to year. It can be an informal interview with parents or a lottery system.

The 10-year-old school has made a name for itself in a short time. It is known for its board results. Nestled among hills and lakes, the verdant school provides opportunities for all activities, from horse riding to basketball.

They have sports camps running every day from 6 am, for all students.

They are also building a swimming pool, gymnasium and auditorium.