No regulatory mechanism to check them, say principals
Study geography using Google maps and learn to ‘Bend it Like Beckham' at the school's soccer field where co-curricular activities are not an after-school activity. It is truly international, right from the world-class features to the students from different countries that make up a classroom.
With the city increasingly developing as a centre for multinational investment, international schools are becoming a preferred option for parents. Academicians say such schools are institutions promoting education either by adopting an international curriculum or by following a national curriculum different from that of the country the school is located in.
Increasingly, many schools that are not offering an international curriculum such as International Baccalaureate (IB) and University of Cambridge International Examinations still have the tag ‘international' saying their infrastructure and the teaching methodology they adopt make them different.
“There is no regulatory mechanism to check whether the school is truly international, so it has to happen only from parents,” says R. Kishore Kumar, senior principal, St. John's International Residential School.
At least parents such as Gayathri Dharani Rajan are not complaining, neither was she influenced by the word ‘international'. After school-hunting for some years, the parent of the class V student is happy to have shifted her son from a matriculation to an ICSE school. She was looking for a school where extra-curricular activities are part of the curriculum, there is no undue emphasis on academics and where the child learns with an analytical approach. “Also, half my job is done as the strength of the class is less, so teachers are going to pay more attention,” says Ms. Rajan, whose son is a student of St. Francis International School, Porur.
According to University of Cambridge International Examinations, there are 22 schools in the State that are affiliated to the university and at least five more waiting for the accreditation. “These schools undergo a thorough inspection of academic and infrastructure requirements,” says Vinayak Sudhakar, Schools Development Manager India of University of Cambridge International Examinations.
Palaniappan Ramasamy, CEO and Principal, The British International School, feels India is increasingly lapping up the international curriculum and more schools are likely to introduce them.
He says the CBSE offers its curriculum outside India and the State government is following the central board, as has been the case in evolving syllabi as per the NCERT guidelines. “In effect, the CBSE seems to be going international and the State Boards, not far behind.”
Mr. Kishore Kumar also feels that the Indian curriculum, leaving aside the languages, is at a par with international standards. “Admission to my international curriculum is poor and I have students who move to CBSE after a few years of study,” he says. “We are among the few schools planning to go for the CBSE – International curriculum,” he adds.
Besides being the first choice for children of diplomats and NRI parents, these are also popular among parents on the move for the global exposure they offer. The fee charged makes these schools out of reach for many parents. Other reasons why such schools are yet to catch up is the difference in the time of results in international boards and Indian school boards.
“I would say more than getting students, it is getting the teachers that is more difficult in running an international school,” adds Mr. Ramasamy.
Jayanthi Thiagarajan, Head of M.CT.M Chidambaram Chettyar International School, also agrees that it is difficult to find experienced teachers for the IB programme. “I don't even look for them. I pick the right candidates and give them the necessary training and absorb them. That seems to work well for me and I am able to give top academic quality,” says Ms. Thiagarajan.
Teachers working in international schools say that what makes the curriculum different is the international experience the teacher brings with her.