It was only when the Indian Army was born in its present form at the dawn of Indian independence that family life really took roots in India’s cantonments. Solders – Officers, Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs), and men alike were dependent on the existing educational system in the country for the education of their wards. As more and more families moved into our cantonments, the existing private schools slowly became unaffordable to soldiers. Even the Central Schools (Kendriya Vidyalaya) did not provide guaranteed admission to the children of soldiers who were frequently transferred from one station to another.
The problem became more acute with the massive expansion of the Indian Army from 1962-1973. A few regimental schools mushroomed all over India to cater to the growing aspirations of all ranks. However, these schools did not offer the quality that our Officers, JCOs, and other ranks were aspiring for.
Realizing the importance of children’s education as a major welfare activity, the COAS took a considered decision to establish a chain of schools in various regional commands. This was announced on Army Day – 15 Jan 1980 by the COAS. Thus was born the school system of the Indian Army. By the time, 28 Regimental and 4 High schools had already come up and an umbrella organization was required to co-ordinate the functioning of these schools. To meet the requirement, Army Welfare Education Originisation (AWEO) was created under Adjutant General’s Branch. This organization was registered under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 on 29 Apr 1983 as Army Welfare Education Society (AWES) being a statutory requirement for affiliation to CBSE. The Apex Body of AWES is the Board of Governors (BOG) with the Chief of Army Staff as the Patron-in-Chief and Army Commanders as Patrons. The day-to-day work, in pursuance of BOG directions, was to be carried out by an Executive Committee headed by the Adjutant General(AG) and a retired Officer appointed as full-time secretary of AWES. This secretariat which started functioning under AG’s Branch as CW-9 later metamorphosed into the present day HQ AWES under a retired officer of Major General rank.
The schools, initially named Army High schools, were later christened as Army Schools. All schools were redesignated as Army Public Schools on 01 Jul 2011. There are 137 Army Public Schools across cantonments and military stations in India, all following NCERT curriculum and affiliated to CBSE, New Delhi. The schools are administered by local formation commanders through School Administration and Management Committees (SAMC). From a modest 20000 student population in 1987, APSs have grown to a mammoth system with a student strength of approximately 2.3 lac and 8500 teaching staff. On average 5000 students are added every year.