‘Elite’ schools open doors to the city’s poor, a dream, say parents
Posted: Apr 11 2011
Chandigarh Dozens of children belonging to poor families have got admissions in private schools under 15 per cent EWS quotaz
Even as controversy continues over the implementation of the Right To Education (RTE) Act in Chandigarh, the first fruits of this historic piece of legislation have already started reaching the desired beneficiaries in the city. Dozens of financially poor families have been able to get their children admitted to so-called “elite” schools — something they could never achieve all these years in the absence of this law.
It has just been a week since many of these students — coming from poor backgrounds — have started attending classes in such schools. And despite the initial apprehensions their parents had, it has been the beginning of what they now believe will be a rewarding journey for their wards.
“On the first day of school, our happiness was overshadowed by the fear as to how will my child be treated by the staff, other children and teachers — whether they will pay attention to him or he will be secluded,” said Umakant Tiwari, who works at a filling station in Sector 46. His son Keert Vardhan has got admission in St Stephen’s School at Sector 45.
Umakant was not alone. Dozens of other parents, whose wards got admission under the 15 per cent Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota in city’s private schools, were equally worried. But not anymore. The week gone by has allayed most of their concerns
Indian Express Article
Wednesday, September 8, 1999
Let’s play ball!
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
When the St. Stephen’s Football Academy started, critics gave no more than two months of oxygen. According to them it was a “misadventure”. But two years on, it is the critics who ran out of oxygen. The “misadventure” of principal Harold Carver and football coach Bhupinder Singh became the first football academy of its kind in the country.
The academy has 25 kids in the age group of 7-10 years and plans to continue coaching them for six to ten years. And the schedule is rigorous: the children are subjected to a daily 12-hour drill. From 7.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. they attend regular classes. They eat lunch between 2 and 3.30 p.m. and then do their homework or study. Then at 5 o’ clock, after a one-and-half-hour rest, it is football time till 7 p.m.
Starting the academy was not easy. “Our problem was not finance but the parents,” says the coach. He hastily adds, “Even the pupils were very small.” The parents were more bothered about academics. “But the principal proved to be an excellent PR man,” said Surinder Kumar, another coach of the academy. Carver asked three of his teachers, Prem Sethi, Jina Singh and Priyanka Sethi, to stay in after classes to help the pupils with their home work/studies.“Other academies or clubs here admit pupils who have either played at the state, national or international level, but our pupils had probably never played football before,” says Bhupinder Singh who is a football coach with the Sports Authority of India (SAI). Carver calls the academy “a football nursery.”
“The academic graph of these pupils has soared significantly compared to their last year’s performance,” says Carver proudly. And the parents agree. One of them, Vinod Sood, says, “My son has become more intelligent. Touch wood.” Carver converted the Home Science lab into a mess cum kitchen for the budding footballers. Lunch is strictly in accordance with Bhupinder Singh’s diet chart, says Aarti, the Home Science teacher. “The principal checks the quality of the diet himself,” said dietitian Parminder Kaur. And that’s not all. Jacaob Mathews always hangs around the kids while they have their lunch to teach them table manners. And the school does not charge any extra fee for these services, says Shaminder Kaur, a parent. The results of the experiment are clearly visible when the children practice in the PU sports ground: like mature footballers they kick the ball from the middle of their football shoes.
“For the first few months, I only let them `feel the ball’,” says Bhupinder Singh, who did his international coaching diploma from Germany. “Today they can kick for the target.” But there are still miles and miles to go. And helping them reach those goals will be Dr Ashok Ahuja, senior scientific officer at NIS, Patiala, who has agreed to provide his expertise to the kids.
“When we started, we had the Subroto Cup (national schools soccer) but now I see that my kids will scale the heights,” says Carver. Parents are equally confident: “I am sure one day my son Nikhil and others will don the national colour,” says Mr Bhatia, who owns a sweet shop in the city. “I didn’t take more than 10 seconds to okay Bhupinder’s dream project,” said Harold Carver. And what he is doing to spread this concept? Carver has a ready answer: “The moment a seven-year-old moves around the city or outside in a proper football kit, the concept grows.”