By Sukant Deepak
New Delhi, March 4 | One of the best known private schools in India, Sherwood College, Nainital, boasting of alumni, including Amitabh Bachchan, Kabir Bedi, and politician Jitendra Prasada, besides a host of civil servants recently advertised for admissions for the session 2021-22, much to the surprise of many.
Though they have advertised in the past too, it is not very often that one comes across an advertisement for admissions from one of the oldest schools in India, established in 1869, which has always had a high rejection rate considering its immense popularity.
The ‘Old Sherwoodians’ society, however, feels that it is the consistent falling of standards under the management and the never-ending controversies that has resulted in many parents taking their wards out of the school, thus forcing the institution to advertise.
It may be noted that a row erupted at the school in October last year when the current Principal, Amandeep Sandhu was suspended over allegations of financial irregularities.
In December, the interim Principal, Peter Dhiraj Emmanuel, the police and representatives of the diocese of Agra were not allowed to enter. The gates were locked, and a notice pasted that those without a Covid negative test would not be allowed to enter the campus.
At that time, the principal, Amandeep Sandhu had told the media that the school did not have any Chairman of the society and the Bishop of Agra had no authority, therefore Emmanuel was not correct.
Speaking to IANS, Sunil Issar, secretary of Old Sherwoodians claimed that the school was going through its lowest phase. “The utter mismanagement and self-goals of the school administration has rendered a huge blow to the school’s reputation. No wonder, we are witnessing many parents taking their wards out. Thus, the advertisements,” he said.
Although admitting that owing to pandemic, the popularity of boarding schools around the country is not really high, Issar feels that the recent controversies surrounding the school have done an irreparable damage to the brand.
“There are a number of church factions fighting for control over the trust that manages the school. Several self-appointed bishops have come up. The current Principal has aligned himself with them and what has ensued is utter chaos,” laments Issar.
Demanding that the government should step in take interim control of the school till the ownership controversy is solved, Issar, adds, “I studied there from Class 3 to 12, and it hurts me tremendously to see the current standard of the institution which is not only losing students but also failing to attract the best of them owing to all the controversies surrounding it.”
Jangveer Singh, media adviser to MP Sukhbir Badal (President of Shiromani Akali Dal), a former student of Sherwood College feels that not just the controversies surrounding the institution, it is the diminishing popularity of boarding schools that is also forcing such institutions to now advertise heavily for admissions. “There are excellent schools even in tier-II cities now, so why would parents want their children to go to hostels? When it comes to Sherwood, and many other top boarding schools, they are getting a lot of students from tier-III cities, so anyways the standard of intake has gone down, forcing many parents to think twice about sending their wards there.”
Adding that boardings were mostly known for overall development and not focus on academics alone, Singh feels that most parents are now looking for academic excellence.
Talking about the current state of Sherwood College and the controversy surrounding the school, he tells IANS, “Like in other boarding schools, the principal is all in all. The Old Boys’ associations have no powers in the functioning of the school. In contemporary times, it is important that power is not centered around one individual. Also, when former students have a say in the running of institutions, it translates into more funds and development.”
Despite repeated attempts and calls to Sherwood College, the principal, Amandeep Sandhu could not be contacted.