Education and Schools in India
It comes as no surprise that a strong emphasis on education in India is one of the driving forces behind its emerging economy. Indian schools constantly challenge their students to do better – but expats will find that this doesn't necessarily apply to the suffering public school system.
Most people who can afford it send their children to private schools, but choosing a school that's right for their children is another decision altogether.
The curricula, learning environments and teaching philosophies at these institutions vary widely, and expat parents will need to select a school that aligns with their budget and expectations.
That said, it's best to secure a place as early as possible, and expats moving for business should try and get help from their employer. The admissions process is extremely competitive, and in some cases, even corrupt.
Public schools in India
Public schools in India won't meet most expats' standards. Class sizes exceed international norms; facilities may be mediocre at best; and administrative and budgetary issues are far too common.
Some public schools in India teach in English but many don't, which creates a language barrier that expat children struggle to overcome.
Private schools in India
Private schooling in India is an umbrella term that includes a range of institutions with various curricula, including:
International schools with curricula from their respective home countries
Alternative learning schools that follow the Montessori and Steiner philosophies
Private Indian schools that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB), Cambridge IGCSE and local curricula (ICSE, CBSE)
Large commercial centres like Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi will have all three categories of schools, but the selection might be more limited smaller cities and rural areas.
Cost and curriculum are the primary factors expats should consider when deciding on a school, while proximity becomes especially important for those living in cities plagued by congestion and frustrating commutes.
Most private schools in India use English as their primary teaching language, with the exception of international schools that use their home country's language as the medium of instruction.
As with elsewhere, Indian private schools come with a sizeable price tag – senior tuition at an elite international school can cost around 2.5 million INR a year. Where possible, expats should try to make a schooling allowance part of their employment package.
Indian private schools
Indian private schools have a good reputation but the emphasis on results and rote learning can be challenging for expat students.
Students are incredibly competitive and are pushed to perform by their families and society in general. Children start taking exams as early as pre-school and the stringent series of tests doesn't let up until graduation.
International students are often unaccustomed to this pressure, and as a result, many feel frustrated and insecure. That said, many students rise to the occasion and benefit greatly from learning in a multicultural environment.
International schools in India
International schools are ideal for expats who want their children to continue with their home-country curriculum. They also maintain their home country's primary teaching language and tend to employ familiar methods of instruction.
American and British international schools are well-represented across India and a number of schools representing other countries have opened in larger cities.
Expats should note, however, that international schools are among the most expensive.