Promoted in 1999 by US-returned educationist the late Sudheer Phatak and his wife Vaidehi, this CBSE-affiliated school has acquired a good reputation for providing holistic ICT-enabled education rooted in Indian values
Sited on a green 25-acre hillside campus in suburban Pune — Maharashtra’s fast-track industrial hub — the low-profile Millennium National School (MNS, estb.1999) is perhaps the country’s first school bags-free K-12 institution. Promoted in 1999 by US-returned educationist Sudheer Phatak and his wife Vaidehi under the aegis of the Pragatipath Educational Foundation, MNS admitted its first batch of 150 students in the millennium year. Since then, this formerly state but currently CBSE-affiliated school, has acquired a good reputation for providing holistic ICT-enabled education rooted in Indian values, to its 2,942 students mentored by 120 teachers.
“Our institutional priorities are to provide a safe, secure, stress-free, school bags-free and technology-enabled learning environment for children through our hybrid Millennium Way curriculum. The objective is to establish a culture of learning and empathy within which all children develop essential competencies through a mix of activities — academics, sports, music, debate, language, wellness, arts and crafts among others. Our goal is to nurture a generation of creators, innovators, free thinkers and competent school-leavers equipped to succeed in life,” says 37-year-old Anvit Phatak, who took charge of the school after his parents were tragically killed in a car crash in 2011.
A computer engineering graduate of the Vishwakarma Institute of Technology, Pune, Anvit began his career at the blue-chip Texas Instruments, Bengaluru. However two years later in 2006, he relocated to Pune to design MNS’ pioneer ICT-enabled teaching-learning programme christened the MyShala e learning project. “We were among the first schools in Pune to upload a website and among the first batch of 200 schools shortlisted to be awarded an Atal Tinkering Lab by NITI Aayog to encourage a do-it yourself and self-learning culture,” says Anvit. Meanwhile to equip himself for his new vocation, he signed up for a Pune University’s bachelors followed by a Masters in education programme — “a very valuable experience”.
The MNS management’s early investment in a robust ICT-enabled hybrid learning model has paid off by way of students’ performance in the CBSE class XII school-leaving examinations. In the pre-pandemic year 2018-19, of the 45 MNS students who wrote the exam, the average score was 81.32 percent with eight students averaging 90 percent-plus. In 2020- 21, the school’s cohort of 77 school-leavers averaged 87.21 percent with 32 averaging 90 percent-plus.
MNS’ excellent academic record is enabled by steady investment in infrastructure upgradation and development. Academic facilities include 75 spacious and well-ventilated classrooms equipped with Smart boards and portable projectors. The school’s fully wi-fi campus also hosts three state-of-the-art science laboratories, two computer labs, and an AI (artificial intelligence) lab, soundproof dance and music rooms. A well-stocked library houses 20,245 books and subscribes to 22 periodicals and e-journals. MNS also offers students a day boarding programme which includes three meals and access to choice of sports and co-curricular education facilities.
Somewhat surprisingly for a day school, the MNS management provides excellent sports education opportunities. The school offers students three full-size basketball courts, four half-size synthetic turf football courts, three volleyball and two Kho Kho courts and a cricket ground with practice nets. Racquet games facilities include four all-weather tennis courts, wooden badminton courts as also a table tennis hall with ten tables, and a modern gymnasium. Co-curricular education is provided through classical vocal and instrumental music, Bharatnatyam, magic, advanced craft, foreign languages like German and Chinese, and organic gardening clubs.
Fortuitously, the MNS management’s early adoption of new digital technologies has stood it in good stead during the Covid-19 pandemic when schools were ordered to shut down for over 80 weeks. “Since right from the start we maintained high standards of technology integration in education, we were able to smoothly switch to online classes. I don’t believe our students have suffered significant learning loss which cannot be quickly made up through remedial education once on-campus classes begin,” says Radhika Vaidya, a science and education alumna of Pune University who signed up with MNS as a science teacher in 2005, and was appointed principal in 2013.
With the dark era of the pandemic nearing its end, Anvit Phatak is confident about this avant garde school’s future. “Although the prolonged Covid pandemic lockdown of education institutions countrywide was a trying period for our teachers, parents and students, I believe this era has strengthened MNS and India’s K-12 education system. Now there is unanimous willingness to incorporate technology into the teaching-learning process, and greater clarity about the purposes of education. From here, it’s onward and upward,” says Phatak, who has drawn up a 2040 goals plan for the school.
Admission & fees
The Millennium National School, Pune is a co-ed K-12 day school affiliated with the Delhi-based Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). For nursery classes, admissions are offered through a lottery staged in December. In higher classes, admissions are based on vacancies. Admission forms are available online from March/April.
Tuition fees (annual): Rs.64,200- 83,000
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