Outlook Magazine: December 4th, 2001
The Doon School, Dehra Dun
ARIJIT BARMAN

Doon is now chalking out a blueprint for the future with its most ambitious aim: to carve a place among the 10 best schools of the world.

Think of a 65-year-old residential school nestled in the Shivaliks that strives to serve the individual talent of every boy against an age-old system of regimentation. Think again of an institution modelled on the much-hallowed British public schools but doing away with the usual draconian regimes. Thatís Doon School. In its democratic environment, students take key decisions on various issues and learn to combine freedom with responsibility. More importantly, they develop a bond, the essence of a family that transcends hierarchies and set rules. Itís indeed a home away from home for all the 500 boys who spend six crucial years of their adolescence amidst sylvan surroundings.

"We encourage all our students to believe they are stakeholders in the school. They are groomed to participate in the business of life working in a community," says headmaster John Mason. Itís not surprising therefore to find a student waking up a housemaster for a midnight snack.

Handling so many adolescent boys is a challenging proposition and the housemasters, matrons and the tutors double up as guides, focusing on the various facets of personal development. Moreover, a discreet counselling service also delves into personal or inter-personal dynamics of living in residence.

The personal interactionóbe it in the classroom or in the dinning room or even on the cricket fieldónurtures the student-teacher relationship. Every class has a maximum of 24 students which makes it easier for the teacher to personally monitor individuals. "We prepare hand-written notes on each of the boys and invite parental feedback... Itís like an extended family," says deputy headmaster Jayant Lal.

Itís only after Class 6 that a child can get admission to Doon after a national-level written test and interview. Failing which you get a chance to sit for an exam again at Class 7 level. Annual fees amount to a little over Rs 1 lakh. The schoolís management also spends Rs 35 lakh annually on need-based scholarships from a Rs 4-crore corpus to make it accessible to all and is now also keen to look beyond scholastics and admit budding talents of the performing arts.

It has been a long endeavour to produce a youthful corps díeliteófrom Rajiv Gandhi, Karan Singh, Vikram Seth, Arun Bharatram to Suman Dubey, Prannoy Roy and Roshan Seth. Doon is now chalking out a blueprint for the future with its most ambitious aim: to carve a place among the 10 best schools of the world.