Education and Schools in Mumbai

Education in Mumbai is a priority among parents and children. However, true to its contrasting nature, expats will find that the number of schools in Mumbai is not in proportion to the burgeoning population. As a result, the admission process can be challenging. Depending on the school, parents should apply for enrolment up to six months in advance.

All schools in Mumbai, whether public, private or international, are affiliated to a particular board of education in India, and this dictates the curriculum the schools adhere to.

The school year in India runs from June to March/April, with a three-week holiday in October or November for Diwali.

Most expats in Mumbai opt to send their children to private or international schools, which may uphold slightly different organisational structures.

Public schools in Mumbai

Most public schools in Mumbai are affiliated to the Maharashtra State Board of Education, which follows the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) curriculum. This curriculum is prominent in schools run by the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai, where education is free of cost, and also in government-aided schools run by religious bodies and charitable trusts, where education is subsidised.

Classes are taught in English, but the curriculum is not conducive to popular Western learning methods. It encourages learning by rote (memorisation), the educational material is not regularly updated, and students are not given the opportunity to understand the practical aspects of learning. Furthermore, there is little or no focus on the all-round development of the child and, hence, this is not an option typically selected by expats.

Private schools in Mumbai

All private schools in Mumbai are affiliated either to the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) Board or the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). In contrast to public schools, the curriculum in these schools is regularly updated in line with the latest global trends. The primary teaching language is English.

ICSE is not textbook oriented, and has a wider outlook for the all-round development of students. The ICSE or CBSE syllabus focuses on practical application as well.  English taught in ICSE is of a world-class standard and the syllabus has worldwide recognition.

Private schools in Mumbai could be an economical choice for those expats wanting premium education in Mumbai at an affordable price. One disadvantage of private schools in Mumbai is the admission process, which can be time-consuming and difficult, owing to the large number of applicants. Furthermore, most private schools have a student to teacher ratio on an average of 35:1; a figure that Western expats may deem too large.

International schools in Mumbai

Most expats prefer to send their children to international schools in Mumbai. These include institutions that follow a home-country teaching curriculum and language, and also those that offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) programme – as is the case with many private schools in India. International schools are a great option for expat parents who are working abroad only for a short period of time and would like their child to have as little trouble as possible acclimatising to their new environment. 

Expats should note that international schools are notorious for their high fees. Many parents are lucky enough to receive education allowances from their employer to help foot the bill, but if this is not the case, be mindful when negotiating a salary that a large chunk will need to go toward tuition.

Beverly Rodrigues Our Expat Expert

Born and brought up in Mumbai, I have seen its transformation take place from just another Indian city to India's mega-metropolis. However, being the destination of many Indians as well as expats, Mumbai can be overwhelming at first. In the last five years of my career, I have worked closely with expats and I am aware of the many problems that they face when relocating to Mumbai. I now provide assistance to expats to help make their transition as simple and enjoyable as possible.

Should you need any help with your relocation to Mumbai, you can follow my blog, Expat Guide Mumbai, or email me.