Navayug the school for the gifted children
-Dr Ram Vriskh Singh, 1980 batch
New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) the local body taking care of the upkeep and provision of civic amenities in the New Delhi area had been operating quite a few primary and middle-level schools in its jurisdiction, right since its inception. These were neighbourhood schools with a provision of mid-day meals to all students on their rolls, besides free books to those coming from the economically weaker sections of society. Enthused with the progress of these schools, NDMC ventured into establishing a secondary school, aiming especially at the overall growth of the gifted students in its jurisdiction. This was to usher at the beginning of a new era in the lives of the students coming from the middle, lower middle, underprivileged, and economically weaker sections of Delhi and hence the nomenclature Navayug, i.e. new era.
The motive behind starting a senior secondary school in the auspices of NDMC can be understood better from the excerpts of the hand-written notes obtained thankfully from the records of NDMC, which read as under-
“NDMC School for Gifted Children Scheme
The school will provide educational opportunities on the lines of Public Schools to gifted children coming from middle and low-income groups. With highly qualified staff enriched curricula & varied curricular programs the school will enable children to develop a balanced personality to face the challenges of modern society.”
It is umpteen clear from the above excerpt that the school was started with the objective of providing quality education to the GIFTEd children who came from middle and low-income groups. The school was to employ highly qualified teachers who were capable of further grooming the gifted students and chiseling their personalities in such a manner that they developed into balanced personalities, capable of facing the growing challenges of a modern society. For this, the school was to concentrate not only on curricular activities, but also on a variety of co-curricular programmes. The over-all motive behind this whole exercise was to provide the gifted children with an institutional environment that was suitably matched to the atmosphere available in the Public Schools those days.
The note goes on to describe further the ‘Pattern’ and the ‘Administration’ that the school was to follow-
An independent school which will run on the lines of public/progressive schools with day boarding facilities.
School will be co-educational.
School will be of the status of a Sen. Sec. School- VI to XI.”
Board of Governors- All financial & administrative powers will be vested in the board.
(It would comprise of ) 7 members (3 from NDMC)
Principal Secretary of BOG
Financial- Principal- DDO”
The note under reference also deals with the issue of children’s growth in terms of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) under suitable conditions. The psychological aspects considered at the time of setting up this school are explained thread-bare in the following sentences:-
Children whose IQ increased during the early years (who) were vigorous, emotionally independent, aggressive & actively engaged in exploring their environment than those who IQs failed to increase.
In later years changes in IQ appear most clearly with a strong motivation to achieve.
# Some individuals show large shifts in IQ if there are major changes in the opportunities for learning. There may be marked changes in tested intelligence.
The variables that produce large changes in IQ in individual children (not specified) but emotional & motivational factor appears to play a major role.
# Changes in intellectual ability-> The gain in primary ability is rapid in childhood & slows in teens, right time to tap & expand.’
The note goes on to justify further the setting up of the school, under the head ‘Philosophy and Objective behind Navayug School’, the narrations whereof are being quoted here under:-
“The school stood on the pillars of providing educational opportunities to the Gifted Children coming from middle & low income groups. In tune with varied studies conducted, if the children from the economically weaker sections of the society were also given an environment which was conducive educationally, it would bring about favourable changes in their IQ levels too. In the company and guidance of highly qualified staff and gifted children for long hours, the children were expected to have learn(t) many things and in turn enable children to develop a balanced personality to face the challenges of modern society. The main idea was to provide opportunities in learning in the school itself by providing an enriched curricula and varied curricular prog. The exposure of the students to the kind of an atmosphere was expected to churn out balanced & confident personalities.
An exposure to this kind of motivational environment was understood to be for a longer /greater part of the day, hence the idea of a long hour school (Day boarding). Here the students and teachers would share meals and that was and added time of interaction at personal level.
Academics, sports (including swimming) all curricular activities and extra exposure to all the major events happening in Delhi, held gave the necessary confidence building exercise to the students.”
It can be inferred from the above excerpts that Navayug School was started with an objective to providing the gifted children from the middle and the lower income groups with a congenial environment, educational as well as co-curricular, so that they could develop into more intelligent and more confident individuals, with a balanced personality making them capable of facing the challenges of a modern society emerging ahead of them. It was felt that the students, though gifted, could be further developed and groomed, to attain their potential, only if they remained in constant touch with highly qualified teachers and mentors for longer hours. Under this notion, the school was decided to be run for longer hours, i.e. from 830 am to 430 pm, with the provision of day-boarding facility, which was to allow the students an opportunity to share dining space with their teachers and thus gain and learn optimally all the good qualities and traits from them. The school was to provide a majority of the games’ facilities, including a swimming pool. This aimed at inculcating in its students a true sportsman spirit. A special emphasis was laid on involving the students in varied co-curricular activities, which was to ensure an overall growth of the students, and not to reduce them to mere book-worms. Thus the school being planned, was to adopt a holistic approach, and bestow full attention on an over-all growth of its students. Navayug was contemplated to be a co-educational school, thereby ensuring equal opportunities to the young boys as well as the girls to receive quality education. About four decades ahead of the Right to Education movement, the administrators in NDMC had conceived and implemented successfully the idea of right to quality education for the gifted children of Delhi. This indeed was a great gesture on part of NDMC.
The philosophy and founding principles of Navayug are very aptly ascribed in Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia, as under-
“Rich or poor, education is a fundamental right of all. Educated masses are the foundation of a developed country. At the time of independence, there were few private schools but only rich could afford them. Government schools provided cheap education, but their standard was far below that of private schools.
Intelligence is not a function of wealth but it is required to mine and process the reserves of raw intelligence. Latent talent from economically weaker section generally goes waste in absence of resources. To harness this untapped potential, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) formed Navyug School Education Society, which started the first Navyug School in 1973 at Sarojini Nagar, Delhi. The school is brain-child of Smt. Vidyaben Shah, who was then vice president of NDMC. The school is often quoted as a school for gifted children.”
Navayug was launched on February 16, 1973 at the Red Bricks, Netaji Nagar, New Delhi, with iconic Sh. Jivan Nath Dar as its founder Principal, who had a vast experience of Modern School, Bharati Vidya Bhavan, Doon School, Netarhat and Vikas Vidyalaya, behind him. With a fire in his belly for the young children coming from the economically weaker sections of the society, the under privileged and the down trodden, Sh. Dar sowed the seeds of this great institution, and ran it for initial 4 years, which was taken over by Sh. I.B. Kakar thereon.
(note:- The notes under reference have spelt the name of the school as NAVAYUG, whereas later on it became more popular as NAVYUG.)
Red Bricks, Netaji Nagar
Red Bricks used to be a double storey building with about 10-12 class-rooms, an auditorium, a lab, a library a well laid out kitchen adjacent to the main building with a dining hall, sufficient enough to seat about 200 students and their teachers. The most peculiar thing about the school was its circular ramp, that led to the first floor and was used by the students to climb up. The school had a sprawling playground, flanked by a road on one side (towards the main gates of the school), the double storey school building on its right, the complex housing the kitchen and dining hall on the rear and a vacant piece of land along its length on the left. There were no walls towards the vacant land which made its barbed fencings vulnerable and accessible to the stray pigs from the slum that had mushroomed on the vacant land. The walls of the building were not plastered, and its bricks were coloured red, instead, hence the name Red Bricks. The founder principal Sh. J.N. Dar would refer to this building as Red Bricks and the name gained popularity in the days that followed.