It takes 15 minutes to get past the reception where a webcam captures your image and a bar-coded entry pass is issued. When you finally walk in, brown stone buildings stretch out far into the distance on either side. At the circle in the centre stands a parked BMW; a salesman hands out brochures and expresses his eagerness to tell you more about the car. Further down is a food court filled with familiar brands selling coffee, pizzas and sandwiches. This isn’t the campus of some IT giant or even a mega shopping mall. This is the Amity University in Noida.
At the other end of the National Capital Region, a few students sit on a hillock, tapping away at their laptops. They are students of the Pathways World School, located in the Aravalli hills in Gurgaon. It’s time for project work and since the school and grounds are connected through a wifi network, they’re making the most of a lovely autumn day instead of sitting in air-conditioned classrooms.
These aren’t the schools and colleges most of us attended. Those were cavernous buildings where a lone ceiling fan barely moved the air around the dusty wooden benches, where the canteen served greasy bread pakoras and walls were covered with graffiti and student council election posters. But then, education today is diametrically different from what it was a decade ago. As incomes rise and aspirations climb, people’s demand from the education system, too, are increasing.
They want better amenities — classrooms, libraries, course material — better choices and combinations of subjects, and they want better methods of teaching. What hasn’t changed is the attitude to education — for many, IIT is still the Holy Grail and an English education is a ticket to prosperity. So, India’s willingness to spend on education hasn’t lessened, either — indeed, it’s one of the biggest chunks of expenditure in most households’ budgets. A January 2012 survey by Credit Suisse reports that Indi