Education and Schools in Mumbai
As with anywhere in India, 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, and if possible, parents should start vying for enrolment six months in advance, depending on which school one chooses and in which system the school falls.
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.
School year in Mumbai
School Year: June to March/April
Summer Holiday: April/May
Three Weeks Holiday: October or November (Diwali)
In Mumbai, all children attend approximately 15 years of schooling before they are considered to be graduates. Children generally start their school life at the age of three, first in junior kindergarten, and then in senior kindergarten. This is followed by four years in primary school and six years in high school or 'secondary school', as it is known locally, where the child passes the tenth grade. Most children graduate from high school when they are around fifteen years old.
Once they pass the tenth grade, they need to complete two years of junior college and three years of senior college before attaining their graduate degree, roughly at the age of 21.
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.
The medium of teaching is English; however, the curriculum is not conducive to the Western way of learning. 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.
Students have a wide choice in subjects, and the liberty to choose the books that they read.
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 more importantly, this syllabus has world-wide recognition.
The 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. Also, in spite of the listed fees (roughly 5,000 USD to 8,000 USD annually), it is quite common for private schools to ask for donations (bribes) in order to move the application up the list.
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.
Established private schools include:
Bombay Scottish School: www.bombayscottish.in/mahim/home.html
The Cathedral & John Connon School: www.cathedral-school.com
Campion School: www.campionschool.in/default.asp
Jamnabai Narsee School: www.jns.ac.in/
Podar International School: www.podarinternationalschool.com
Aditya Birla World Academy: www.adityabirlaworldacademy.com (predominately Indian)
Ecole Modiale World School: www.ecolemondiale.org (predominately Indian)
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.
The percentage of Indian children in these schools is much lower, so if expats prefer their child to be more exposed to locals and their culture, then the Indian private schools would be a more suitable alternative.
Otherwise, if parents 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, then sending them to the international school associated with their home country may be best.
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.
Most international schools charge an average of 20,000 USD on annual academic fees, in addition to approximately 10,000-15,000 USD in supplementary fees.
Criteria for selecting a school in Mumbai
School Environment - Decide which environment ones child will do the best in and whether they will do better surrounded by other expat children or with local Indian students.
School Fees - How much can one afford to spend on a child’s education? Parents do not normally want to put a price on their child’s education, but in Mumbai, this is important to determine. Expat-related services such as purchases, renting apartments and education come at a higher price than for most locals. Most schools, private and international, do not publish their fee structure, so it will not be easy to get this information online. The best way to get the right information would be to contact the school directly.
Proximity to home - As with everything else in Mumbai, travel time is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a school. Most international schools in Mumbai are located in the suburbs of Bandra or Andheri, which are also the predominant areas where expats choose to live.
Extras - Like extra curricula activities and services provided by the school, parent teacher associations will also factor into your decision.