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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Education Further - How to choose the best school for your child

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How to choose the best school for your child

It is that time of the year when parents are busy picking the school they would like to have their child admitted. The next academic year is still 6-7 months away, but schools start the admission process - not just for the first standard but also for nursery and playgroups - in November. 

Just like a college admission or admission to an MBA course, the little ones and their parents have to go through the rigmarole of filling up application forms, attending interviews and also the stress caused by the anxious wait for the final admission list. This is seen by many parents as the important first step for a good education for their child. 

"I have been studying the curriculum and the teaching methods of various schools in my suburb for eight months now," says Sandeep Bachhe, a Mumbai-based technical analyst. 

"I identified 7-8 schools based on proximity, feedback and the curriculum. Then I ensured I met parents sending their children to these schools to get a first-hand feedback. Based on the parents' feedback and our expectations, I shortened the list to three schools and picked one from them," says Sandeep. 

The fact is parents want their kids to get the best education possible. Unfortunately, in their eagerness to provide the best education often they consider only the affordability factor before deciding on the school or curriculum. 

Sure, it is an important parameter, but there are certain other factors one should look at to make the right choice. 

Choice of Curriculum 

Gone are the days when a parent had just schools of state board or the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to choose from. Today, there is a wide range of options, including schools following the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and The International Baccalaureate (IB)/International General Certificate of Secondary Education ( IGCSE) curricula. 

You may be already clear about your choice of curriculum, but there are a few points you should consider before making your choice. "If the parent/parents have a transferable job and the child has to change schools frequently, he/she should ideally opt for an ICSE or CBSE school. 

Parent in a government job that involves transfer to tier-II towns should ideally opt for a CBSE school. If the transfer is restricted to metros or urban areas, parents can opt for ICSE or a CBSE School. The logic is that ICSE schools are still a rare concept in smaller towns of the country," says KSR Iyer, a Navi Mumbai-based counsellor. 

"I have a job with prospects of overseas postings. For some reason, if I migrate to some other country, I don't want my child's education to suffer. Hence I have opted for IGSCE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) board," says Sandeep. 

Schools Credentials 

There are a number of international schools mushrooming in every corner of cities. It has become a lucrative business given the high fee structures of such schools. 

It has become more of a fad for parents to say they are sending their child to an IGSCE school. If the school or the management of the school has a pedigree and expertise in the field of education, it definitely adds to the school's credentials. But that alone in not enough. 

"I was keen on sending my child to a school following the IGSCE curriculum. But, after doing some homework, I realised only a few IGSCE/IB schools in India have the right global recognition," says Meenakshi Rajan, a Bangalore-based software engineer. "I learnt that the recognised international schools in every country are listed on the IB website (formerly known as International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO)). According to the website, only 85 IB schools in India have the necessary global recognition." 

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