The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Touching gold at a turning point

A change of guard may have taken place but the quest for academic excellence continues. South Point School, an entrepreneurial success story of the middle-class Bengali meant for the middle-class Bengali, is set to step into its fifth decade.

The school, founded on April 1, 1954, by Satikanta Guha, is chalking up plans for a year-long party. Topping the celebration agenda is a complete revamp of the nursery section. The school, now owned by the Birlas, plans to shift Nursery I and II to a new premise. The two classes now occupy the ground and first floors of the Mandeville Gardens campus. “We need to add to the infrastructure,” said a school administrator. The authorities are looking for a 20-25 cottah plot.

Changes are being planned in the present set-up as well. “We are redoing the syllabus, which has stayed the same over the years,” says Madhu Kohli, principal of the junior school. The teaching method so far had no space for audio-visual aids. Kohli, a doctorate in child psychology, stresses on the importance of incorporating this aspect in the syllabus, especially as the admission age has gone down to two years six months now. “These kids cannot be expected to learn the alphabets straight away,” she smiles. So, a 750 sq ft hall is being converted into an activity room to allow the use of the learning-by-doing method.

“Children should not straight away be put in a classroom atmosphere. They should have the freedom to learn as per their own pace,” the administrator says. The activity room will have special toys and tools to allow the development of motor coordination and sensory perception. A home theatre system will add to the fun-learn experience. “Activity and workbooks are also being developed by our teachers and will be used from the April 2004 session,” Kohli points out. Phonetics will be adopted to make children speak and spell more effectively.

The authorities are also laying stress on workshops to upgrade the skills of all the staff. “A significant part of the workshop is the training for ayahs and durwans so they know how to handle a child who is homesick or is not toilet-trained,” the administrator points out.

What is South Point without its numbers' But that too might change to an extent with a target strength of 35 being planned to a classroom. “This will help the teacher have better control over the students individually,” Kohli explains, adding that there will be more sections in a class.

The school at present has a roll strength of 12,500, with the nursery classes accommodating 1,700. Planning a golden jubilee birthday party on this scale is ambitious indeed. But there is no slowing down at 50. A logo and a badge have been designed to mark the occasion. A school song has been penned by a teacher (Anindita Roy) and set to tune by singer Swagatalakshmi Dasgupta. In July, group photos of every class with their teachers will be taken and each student will be gifted the album.

Outdoor activities are also being arranged. First up is a school picnic after the Pujas. “It will have to be phased out in three-four batches, but the entire school will go,” promises Kohli. While the high school has had its inter-school fest, ‘Udaan’, for some time, this year the first junior school jive will be held on November 14 and 15.

And the grand finale is from March 26 to April 1, 2004. Though the details have not been worked out, Kohli says guardians and former students will have a large role to play in the week-long fiesta. More numbers and surely more fun to mark a turning point.

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