Anuj Kumar, 16, seems to have fallen in love with his government school like never before.
A student of Class 10, Anuj says his school in east Delhi -- including teachers and the method of teaching -- has undergone a major transformation in the last two years, ever since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government came to power in the national capital.
Teachers and a section of parents IANS spoke to at the Senior Secondary School in New Ashok Nagar agree with the teenager.
"The ambience in the school was not at all like this till a year ago," Anuj, who has opted for science. "Our school was earlier a rundown building, untidy and known for goondaism. All that has changed."
Around 3,200 girls and 1,752 boys study in the school in morning and evening shifts respectively.
The school is one of the 1,011 run by the Delhi government in the capital that have undergone what officials and teachers say is a "revolutionary makeover", making some of them look like private schools.
The Delhi government has revived most of its schools with new infrastructure and created an atmosphere conducive to studies -- among several initiatives to raise the education standards.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia last month inaugurated the national capital's first 'Model' government school with "state-of-the-art" facilities and infrastructure.
Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya on Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg has become the first Delhi government school to boast of audio-visual teaching aids, projectors in classrooms, besides a swanky new building with all conveniences.
Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, says his government built some 8,000 schoolrooms since taking office in February 2015 and plans to add an equal number within one-and-half years. The number of schoolrooms built so far amount to constructing some 200 new schools.
To strengthen the school infrastructure, the Delhi government has also planned 100 new schools in the coming years.
"New classrooms are being constructed in my school. The school premises now remain more tidy and discipline is maintained. Teachers now pay more attention to teaching," Anuj said. "If the same pattern of education reform continues, the government schools will become better than the private ones in future."
The Delhi government's focus on education is visible as in its two years it has allocated maximum share of its budget to the education sector.
The government in its 2015-16 Budget allocated Rs 9,836 crore for the education sector. It increased the spending in its 2016-17 Budget, allocating Rs 10,690 crore for education -- 23 per cent of the total Budget.
School teachers say the condition of schools in terms of infrastructure and cleanliness has improved a lot.
"Dedication of the government to improve the condition of schools can be seen as 28 new classrooms have been constructed in this school and more are planned," a teacher at the school, pleading anonymity, told IANS.
Mythili Bector, Principal of the Sarvodaya Vidyalaya at Dakshinpuri Extension, concurred.
"I can see complete 180-degree change in basic infrastructure at schools, leadership programmes for students, teacher learning training process. In every field of education, huge transformation is done. We received tremendous support from the government in making education better," Bector told IANS.
Last year, the Delhi government launched its "Chunauti 2018" programme which aims at enabling students, especially of Class 9, to overcome the adverse effects of the 'No Detention' policy and raise their ability to read.
The students in each class have been divided into two sections 'Pratibha' and 'Nistha'. Students with overall good or average performance are kept in Pratibha, while the weaker students are put in 'Nistha' group.
"We pay extra attention to students in the 'Nistha' group and conduct special reading classes for them. All this exercise is part of 'Chunauti 2018' programme," a teacher at the New Ashok Nagar school said.
"The idea behind 'Chunauti 2018' is that by the year 2018, all Class 9 students in the academic year 2016-2017, regardless of their learning levels at this point, will be trained and mentored to successfully appear for Class 10 examinations in 2018," he added.
Parents who came to pick their wards at the school lauded the government's work towards improving the condition of schools and raising the standard of education.
"For the first time, PTMs (Parent Teacher Meetings) were conducted at government schools. This not only helped establish a proper communication between parents and teachers but also built our confidence in the school," Deepak Rastogi, whose daughter studies in Class 8 at the Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya at New Ashok Nagar, told IANS.
Puja Singh, parent of a Class 7 girl, says her child improved after the government's initiative of paying more attention to weaker students.
"My daughter was weak in reading text books. She was put in Nistha group and teachers paid special attention on her reading abilities and now she is improving," she said.
"After the government conducted two mega PTMs, teachers of the school maintain proper communication with us. They also call us to the school if attendance of my son is low. This was not being done earlier," Raman Batham, a parent, told IANS.
(Ashish Mishra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)