A fine example of technological integration within education, Ahmedabad International School (AIS) blends a modern outlook with ancient Indian philosophy to inspire young minds to explore - swayam or by self. With its skilled educators and varied facilities, the school focusses on imparting internationalism rooted in strong Indian values.
The philosophy of swayam runs through all the education programmes offered at this student-centric school. “Our teachers are facilitators, they help a child progress by self-motivated learning,” explains Principal Dr. Anjali Sharma, who believes self-motivated learning brings about the process of life-long learning.
This focus on the self aligns well with a school that sits in the vicinity of the Sabarmati Ashram, from where Mahatma Gandhi mobilised the country to come together during the freedom struggle. “The Sabarmati Ashram is an integral part of the city and important to all of us,” says Dr. Sharma. The school organises regular visits to the ashram so that the students and teachers can be inspired to collaborate and serve the society better.
Tradition runs even deeper on the campus. The school has integrated the rich history of Ahmedabad, now a UNESCO World Heritage City, with the curriculum. Children are often taken on heritage walks to know more about all the important sites. “The students are enamoured by the engineering marvels that are the famous step-wells in the city,” shares the Principal. This interest in the city’s heritage also extends to its ‘jaalis’, the unique carvings on windows found in various monuments.
“The World Heritage City status reaffirms how Ahmedabad is home to rich and diverse historical and cultural influences. As a school, we encourage children to explore these in order to gain a deeper understanding of their country even as they prepare to be global citizens who can prosper anywhere in the world,” says Mrs. Gorsi Parekh, trustee and founder of the school. “Internationalism is all about a sense of connectedness and belonging, both of which start from truly knowing one’s roots and immediate surroundings,” she adds.
Founded in 1997, the school runs an International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. “IB opens your mind to the larger world,” says Dr. Sharma, who holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Delhi. The school, which has 1,500 students and 220 teachers, started the IB Primary Years programme in 2003, adding IB Diploma four years later. All the IB programme teachers are IB examiners as well. One of the strengths of the school is its highly qualified teachers. A whopping 82 percent of the faculty has advanced degrees. As many as seven IBDP teachers have their doctoral degrees in various disciplines while three more, including the Primary Years Programme coordinator, are pursuing their doctoral research.
Technology is deeply integrated in all aspects of learning at AIS. The wifi-enabled campus has MacBooks for all teachers, iPads for all children in grades 5 to 7, and laptops for all students of Class VIII to XII. “At AIS, technology is not a tool, it is an environment,” says Dr. Sharma. “AIS is one of the few schools in the world to have an in-house technology development team,” she adds.
This stems from the belief that the classroom environment needs to mirror the environment of a modern workplace, in order for students to truly become future-ready. Technology has also enabled deeper connection with the parents. A specially developed Parent App provides parents a view into their child’s classroom experience. Parents are often invited as guest speakers and even take certain classes, which are integrated into the curriculum.
Parents are also invited to address the students during the weekly assemblies. During the famous International Kite Festival in Gujarat, NGOs come to the campus to talk about the threat that kite flying poses to birds and how bird-life can be protected. AIS students also collaborate with community organisations such as the Blind People’s Association and SEWA, the Ahmedabad-based organisation for self-employed women workers.
One of the Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) programmes of the school happens in Cambodia, where AIS Class XI students work for the uplift of underprivileged children. “This gives them a chance to immerse in a different culture and be of service to fellow citizens of the world,” says Dr. Sharma. The students also work with Manav Sadhna, a charitable trust run from the Sabarmati Ashram to help marginalised sections of the society through the practice of Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings.
Each year, universities from across the world visit the AIS campus to educate students about higher education opportunities. A majority of students decide to pursue undergraduate studies abroad while others enrol at leading universities in India. In September 2018, Ivy League universities, including Cornell, Princeton, UPenn and Columbia, visited the campus as part of the school’s placement programme. In addition, each year, a few alumni of the IBDP programme come to talk to the current students about university placements. “We encourage ongoing connection and exchange between former and current students, as this really fosters a deep sense of community that is one of our key strengths,” says Dr. Sharma.
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