Delhi Public School-Kolkata (DPS-K), off the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, with its satellite network, language labs and international school-level cricket competitons. Wonderkids Montessori, at Hazra, expanding into Wonderland International School, with O-levels and A-levels. Pretoria High, with sound-proof and air-conditioned classrooms, on Pretoria Street…
And the choice doesn’t end there. A spate of new schools starting up in the city finally offers parents a chance to pick and choose. Although long queues for admission forms and hours of waiting for “interviews” cannot be wished away, the list of coveted campuses is no longer limited.
“There are a lot of new schools starting up in Calcutta, and that is definitely a good thing,” says Devi Kar, principal of Modern High School. “This is a city where education is prized. So, the more schools the better.”
And going global is clearly the way forward. “Nowadays, we not only look at what is happening in Calcutta schools, but, in fact, take ideas from educational institutions around the world and incorporate them into our system, when and where possible. It’s all about globalisation,” adds Kar.
Methods used in Mumbai and Delhi schools are now creeping into the Calcutta classroom. The maths lab — where computer-based games, puzzles, projects and practical exercises are employed to make learning fun — is ready to enter Birla High’s primary section and double as a computer centre. At another end of the academic scale is Mahadevi Birla, on Darga Road, now offering economics to humanities students in Class XI and XII.
Although one principal admits that there is now a certain amount of “competition”, she clarifies that “this means more innovations and ideas, which is always a good thing”.
Kaveri Dutt, principal of Birla High Senior School, feels that things are changing as a result of a “rise in awareness among teachers and principals and a move towards sharing ideas between them”. As a result, she says, “the standard of schools in the city has risen”. Rashi Narula, principal of Mahadevi Birla, feels this “trend of all-round development and increase in extra-curricular activities attracts parents and students and offers them a choice”.
Having fun in the classroom, stress on extra-curricular activities for the “all-round development” of a child and constantly innovating to keep up with Generation X is suddenly the norm in schools.
Essentially, education-plus is the name of the game and the winners are the students.
What everyone — from new entrants to the old-and-growing — is agreed on is that parents are willing to pay for a quality education, now more than ever. Despite a monthly fee of Rs 1,400, the rush for admissions at DPS-K is proof enough of a bullish economic environment, and a sign that the school education sector in Calcutta is starting a novel chapter.