If, like me, you too are a resident of the National Capital Region, then you know how crazy school admissions can get. Four years ago, when I was looking for a school for my son, I would often be asked which schools I was considering. My answer would always be, “The one that he gets into.”
Everything here works on a lottery system, names are pulled out of a fishbowl and if your child makes it—great—if not, then try elsewhere. In general, a child spends a maximum of 12 years in a school and those are, arguably, the most important years of any child’s life. Thus, one must think carefully before making the commitment.
So before you apply to the schools, you should have some basic criteria to follow and in this article, we try and list down those.
One of the most important criteria is the distance from your home to school. It is ideal to minimize the travel time that the child has to endure each day. A study conducted by Germany-based Education International showed that long journeys to school may have an adverse impact on the physical and mental health of the students which may affect their overall well-being—personal and academic.
Even from the point of view of safety, it is advisable to enrol your child in a school that is within a close distance of your home. Long distance travel may render your child prone to frequent headaches and exhaustion as well.
Gone are the days when parents had to choose between State Boards and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). With the gamut of options available now, parents are not only spoilt for choice but also a bit confused.
For those parents who have transferable jobs, it is believed that the CBSE board would be ideal given that it is a centrally accepted and recognized board. A popular board in India, CBSE is known to help build a strong foundation for students who wish to appear for competitive and mainstream educational courses. The two major examinations conducted by CBSE are All India Secondary School Examination (AISSE) for Class 10 and All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE) for Class 12.
The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) is a private, non-governmental board, which lays a lot of emphasis on practical learning.
It conducts three examinations, namely, the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE-Class X); The Indian School Certificate (ISC-Class XII) and the Certificate in Vocational Education (CVE-Year 12).
International Baccalaureate (IB) stresses on honing analytical skills and gives a lot of importance to languages, arts and humanities. IB is known to provide a good foundation for students who wish to go overseas for their further studies.
Lastly, each state has its own board and the board exams are conducted twice; for class 10, the students appear for Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and for Class 12, the students appear for the Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) exams.
There are many counsellors who could help you make the right decision, so in case of doubt, do consider seeking a professional opinion.
3. Teacher: Student ratio
While this may not seem like an important point, do remember it plays a very crucial role. Did you know that ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009,’ in its Schedule, lays down Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) for both primary and upper primary schools?
At the primary level, the PTR should be 30:1, and at the upper primary level, it should be 35:1.
The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) framework stipulates that the PTR at the secondary level should be 30:1.
Research also suggests that overcrowded and stressful environment can be a reason behind a decline in the learning capabilities of learners.
In case you feel that the school you are considering is not adhering to this ratio then do think twice before enrolling your child there.
4. Schools credentials and accreditation
With schools mushrooming at every street, one must be extra careful and check the credentials of a school thoroughly before zeroing in on it.
A friend of mine recently enrolled her second child in the same playschool her older child went to. However, due to a change of management, the school has undergone some changes over the last few years. Oblivious to this, she went ahead and made the fee payment. Two days into the session she realized that things were not as they were the first time around.
Therefore, remember not to shy away from asking the management a set of questions about the school, its teachers, the methodology they adopt to teach, and the accreditation they have.
5. Infrastructure and safety
Given the steep fee structure that schools charge, wouldn’t you also want the schools to provide the students with good infrastructure? Properly planned school infrastructure is an out-and-out key factor in effective teaching and learning. Well-equipped labs will encourage and enable students to perform lab activities more effectually.
Facilities like extracurricular workshops; libraries, sports fields, auditorium, games equipment, assembly area and proper sanitation facilities are some of the infrastructure essentials that every school should provide to its students.
Before you choose the school, remember also to check what their safety policies are.
With these pointers in mind, we wish you luck in finding the right school for your child.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)