| lining up: Shah Rukh & Aditi
Mumbai, Nov. 18: She would like to keep the spotlight on the curriculum, but her school has become a celeb haunt from Day 1.
Dhirubhai Ambani International School, the brainchild of Reliance bahu Nita Ambani that opened to the public today, has become another successful business venture from the word go. As the school started to issue forms for admission this morning, the management gave out no less than 1,100 in the first three hours alone as the best-heeled of Mumbai thronged the counters.
Sleek limousines drew up before the sprawling Bandra-Kurla campus of the school, pouring out a stream of Page Three people looking for plush education for their next generation. Seen was model and eager parent Aditi Govitrikar. Then, former leading model Deepak Malhotra and his former-model wife Lubna Adams came with their bundle of joy.
Shah Rukh Khan had despatched his driver to stand in the line, but the actor himself had paid a visit to the grounds a week earlier to collect the forms. He was told to wait till today as Nita, says a staffer, has made it very clear that no concession is to be made to anybody. Other celeb names, including those of Bollywood stars and cricketers, cannot be divulged. Several of them will be turned away in any case, because the school will accommodate only 30-32 students in a class. (A class with two sections may have up to 64 students).
Nita and Mukesh Ambani’s children are also expected to study in the school set up by their mother. Tina and Anil Ambani’s children are supposed to follow suit.
“I am overwhelmed,” says Nita, who has worked on school projects earlier, rushing out to another meeting. She has handpicked the teachers and people associated with the project and insists that every admission will be on the basis of “merit”.
Work began on the school 10 months ago when Nita felt there was a great need for such a school “for the children of the new age”. The aim, with the world opening up, is to keep the children rooted locally and yet build them into future global citizens. So the 1,30,000-sq ft school will offer secondary examination under two boards — ICSE and the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) administered by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, says Nita. In Class VIII, a student gets to select the board under which he or she will take the secondary exam.
The school has provision from lower kindergarten to Class VIII right now, but classes IX and X will be put in place soon. The school also offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma that follows the secondary exam.
The aim is also to keep the children IT-enabled. So every classroom — including Lower KG — has four to six data entry points from where PCs can be set up. The classrooms come with lovely views, a seat and desk for every student, a locker even, state-of-the-art labs, including a maths lab, and teacher-student ratio between 1:16 and 1:14.
There are sprawling playgrounds and two huge dining rooms where the food served will only be pure vegetarian in accordance with Ambani tastes, but students are allowed to bring any food.
Teachers have been collected from various fields — a young fresh Oxford-returned will teach creative writing and a Ph.D. degree-holder from a US university who had no desire to teach has set up the physics lab and will also teach.
Classes start next March and it looks like a lot of fun.
The damage' Only Rs 36,000 per student — and there are too many parents ready to cough it up.