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    FAQ: How to choose a school in India
    Q. What exactly do NRI parents look forward to when it comes to schooling for their kids?
A. Bindu Hari (Director TISB) : We have an international student profile. We have an international staff, faculty here at the school. I think one of the critical elements is the fact that they have a lot of exposure to cross cultural communication here at the school, because of the student profile and the staff profile here at the school. That's something that parents look forward too.

Q. International schools offer a mix of Indian and global curriculum in class 11 and 12. But one needs to ensure that the teachers are well trained in the system. How is that done?
A. Marc Parkinson (JB International school): I would personally say that rather than differentiating between both, it would probably be better to look at whether the school has got the human resources to support the delivery of exact curriculum. We are recruiting teachers in the Indian market.

Q. Students in class 9 and 10 can opt for the courses offered by the central board of secondary education or the Cambridge international general certificate of secondary education. There are differences in fees too between the top rank traditional school and an international school. So how does one make a decision?
A. Marc Parkinson (JB International school) : Option now to take an international education in the home country is one of the thing which we think parents are finding extremely attractive. Because it probably comes out one tenth approximately of the cost of an equivalent private school in the country where they are living.

Q. Is it a good idea to check on the activities offered by the school?
A. Bindu Hari (Director TISB) The primary focus of the school is to develop the whole personality of the student. As a result, it's reflected in the kind of facilities that there are at the school. Take for instance sporting facilities. Students have a very wide range of sports that they can be involved in. That can include indoor sport, outdoor sport, Cricket, Socker, Badminton, Squash, Pool, Swimming the whole range. Also health and safety standards aren't mandated by the government but most good schools have checks in place. Finally a student - teacher ratio of 1:25 is a healthy one.

Q. As more and more foreign students are coming to India, there are more and more schools catering to this NRI segment. But there are some schools, which have merely added the name international. So how would you differentiate between the real and fake international schools?
A. Education worldwide is becoming global and hence the need of the hour is internationalism. Today there is a lot of integration of different boards all over the country from the north all the way down to the south. So yes, there is a lot of integration of international schools or international boards that is happening within the schools. Whether it is the IGCSE or whether it is the IB it seems that more and more people are looking for this kind of education for their children.

Q. Talking of two different segments - NRI parents who are based abroad but who want to send their children to school here for a few years, just to get taste of it. And then there are children who have been educated there for a few years but now have moved back to India. What advise would you give them on choosing the right international school for their child?
A. I would like to say that first, if parents are looking at having the great Indian ambience or the great Indian experience then there is no harm in looking at the CBSE schools. Because it's a fine board and children who have passed out of the CBSE have got wonderful placements in universities all over the world. All they needed is a good stat score. So NRI's who are coming into India should also look at regular conventional Indian schools which offer ICSE or CBSE board. However if they are looking at being within India and yet having an international board, there are schools offering this. For example, under IB, there are few schools that go all the way to the top with the IB. They don't have the primary year program or the middle year program and many are simply offering the IB at 10 and 12 at +2, which is equivalent to the +2 in CBSE or ICSE. The children have the freedom to choose their own curriculum, the authors in the extended essay and their own subject.

Q. How easily will children who come from differing educational institutions and methods be able to get themselves integrated in the system?
A. At all levels we have the same kind of system in the CBSE. When the child comes to us, he will be able to deal in a much better and more wider manner because what he has studied abroad is more niche based. So when he comes here, his horizon will widen because the kind of subject that we have, the kind of teachings that happens here is far more global than the niche based education that he is coming from. So I don't think there should be a problem with them coming here. It will be better for him to come here and study.

Q. How easy is the admission process since its said that there's stiff competition to get into the top boarding schools like Rishi Valley or Lawrence School Lovedale. Besides will it not be psychologically detrimental for the child to be one of the few to go to America for all the school holidays if the parents hail from there?
A. International boom is very nascent and hence there should not be a problem getting an admission for your child. When you are relocating to a boarding school, its important to apply within the prescribed period. Also why would there be a psychological impact.

Q What about the psychological impact when it comes to the parents of a particular child being abroad while for other children, parents are close by?
A. True, but there is no local anymore. In Indian education there is no local anymore. Children are travelling all the time. There is a whole load of global education that is happening in schools. Infact as I said you don't have to have an IB board to be international. We have a school, which is 50 years old. Children have travelled all over the world in the last 50 years. So today nothing is local because the world is no more a compartment.

Q. How different or similar is the syllabus of Delhi's international schools and that of schools abroad?
A. There is no question of the syllabus being different because as I said earlier we have a very cosmo kind of syllabus in our schools. For example, we don't test them in Hindi because we understand that they won't be able to do it. Besides even for Mathematics or English that they are tested in, we are not really testing the content levels. We try to judge the skills, the grasping or the analysis. So if the child is able to analyze and do critical thinking, he is going to get through. It has nothing to do with the content level, so they need not worry about that.

Q. Are fees of international schools exorbitant? Also is there a differential pricing between NRI parent and a local parent?
A. Firstly this IB thing is a myth. Why can't we look at conventional schooling? If we can get everything from conventional schools like CBSE or ICSE why do we even have to go that way? But if we are keen on going that way then naturally for an elitist kind of education system you definitely have to pay. In any system, which is a elitist definitely will ask for more money. So here you have an IB DP course, a diploma programme, where you have to pay anything from about Rs 5 lakh and you have the IGCSE where you have to pay about Rs 4,15,000. And yes, because they have different structures and different operational needs they may be asking for more money.

Q. So is IB actually an elitist form of education?
A. Certainly. For every subject that you take, you have to pay. So the very fact that if the NRI's are asking for this, it means that they are ready to pay and market needs are all depending upon the person who is ready to pay it.

Q. Is it a fact that most NRI's are ready to pay because they doubt CBSE or the ICSE will provide quality education and that they believe IB is the best?
A. Let me clarify. There are several myths surrounding IB. Over the last 30, 40 or even 50 years that we have been in the Indian system of education, many children have got admission in marvelous institutions all over the world. They have got it on the fact that they have just passed out the CBSE, ICSE with a good stat score. So parents should be rest assured that they don't really need an IB to get into a foreign university. In fact the IB's so to speak perhaps may not work in an European university because there they have the European back or the French university, where you have a French back and even in America, they prefer the Advanced Placement programs in which are their local boards and they don't necessarily need the IB. In fact the IB is a far more expensive course to get through then to get through the advanced placement program in America, through the American schools or the CBSE or the ICSE. So I think parents should broaden their horizons and not get hooked on to an aspect, just because they don't know any better.

Q. Do schools in India recognize that overseas Indian students come from a very different context and may need a counselor or advisor to turn to when things gets difficult? Also do these schools have programs addressing sex, drug awareness and related issues. In the west, these issues are widely discussed, but how about the same here, even in an international school?
A. People who come from abroad are looking at metro schools with progressive thinking. Today as I said earlier, these schools are very global and very international in their approach. And yes, everything that works abroad works here because we are moving in the same manner. Hence the whole aspect of sex education or education for AIDS, alcoholism or narcotics or anything which deals with the development of the child is an integral part of the school system. Every school has counselors and I don't really think that we need to have counselors to counsel students coming from abroad, because in an average school in a metro, most students are traveling abroad through their schools, through excursions, through teaching learning programmes. So they are very well aware of what is happening and we have a lot of exchange programmes where teachers are coming from abroad, spending a year in our schools.

Q. How do Indian educators really assess the parents even the factor they may be unfamiliar with the career or education of the parents. During the admission tests, its the parent who are asked all these grueling questions, so how does that really work?
A. Such things happen at the nursery level. It does not happen at any other level because basically it depends upon the kind of test that the child gives. If the child has merit and he clears the test, the parent doesn't really come into the picture except that they just have a brief. I know for example, in a boarding school like Rishi Valley, they basically just have a brief discussion. If they have cleared the child, the school authorities only want to know the hobbies of the parent or their background. It's not really gruelling at all. It's just like having a polite conversation across the table. So I don't think anybody should be anxious about their background or they should be anxious about their educational qualifications because to us the child is what matters.

Q. What about the health and safety standards in the IB schools are vis--vis the US or UK?
A. Vis--vis America, Australia or England the standards are at a different level. But in India the standards are no less in terms of good institutions that we are sending our children to. Because an educator is accountable. There are tremendous safety norms and health norms in place. Besides there are inspection teams, vigilance teams that come over to check out the kind of food that you are giving, to check the kind of heath standards that you are maintaining, to check out the kind of safety measures that you have such as a fire control measure etc. So across the board on the whole there are no problems but exceptions cannot be ruled out.

Q. Is there a quota reserved for NRI or foreign students in India's international schools similar to the quotas at college level?
A Schools all over the country are looking forward to people coming and being a part of them. So there is no question of having a quota right now.

Source: South Asia World