Losing touch with reality?

Losing touch with reality?

Are international schools a better option than public ones?

 It’s commonly believed that children in international schools are cocooned from the outside world.The host of international schools that have mushroomed in the City seem sleek, modern and far superior to their public counterparts. This is probably one of the reasons why more and more parents are enrolling their children in them.

The promises are exciting — crammed with facilities, top-notch teachers and plenty of opportunities in terms of future education, they form an attractive option to doting mothers and fathers.

But this doesn’t mean that international schools don’t have their own downside. Since most of their pupils come from high-income homes — predictable, considering the fees that they charge — children in international schools can sometimes become completely isolated from reality. Snack-time conversations revolve around holidays in Switzerland, and an average classmate’s pocket money may even outstrip a middle-class income.

Metrolife caught up with a few parents who have consciously avoided international schools to find out why they did so. Venu, a professional with an eight-year-old daughter, says that any child in such an environment runs the risk of feeling isolated. “She’d lose her identity. If everyone in a class is talking about where they last holidayed, a middle-class child may feel an inferiority complex — despite being good at studies,” he says. Although many parents feel the quality of education at international schools outranks that in public ones, he says, “There are other factors that have to be kept in mind. It’s true that in international schools the material and approach of the teachers is better — but how far does that go in helping children understand the basics?”

Raghu, who runs a grocery store, agrees with this view. His four-and-a-half-year-old son is also enrolled in a public school. “The peer group in international schools is different, because it isn’t very affordable. Because of this, I decided to enrol my son in a public school,” he says. On the quality of education, he seems doubtful. “Parents obviously expect international schools to have better teachers and classes, since they’re paying much more. But I’d prefer that my child remains grounded to reality,” he insists.

Most international schools have a huge community of expat children, but surprisingly, there are some expats who have also consciously avoided them. Ema, who is from the Philippines, says that this isn’t the environment she wanted for her two daughters. “There are many expat kids in international schools, because they would be staying in India only for a while and it makes sense to stick to an international syllabus. Also, for many, their parents’ companies are funding their education,” she explains, adding, “But I have long-term plans here, and my daughters need to get used to the system. I agree that in international schools, the teachers are more expert and facilities are much better. But the Indian system has strengths too — for example, the level of mathematics is very advanced.”

She admits that there are pros and cons in both types of schools. “International schools grade in a holistic manner, whereas public ones are more academic-oriented. It drives my daughter mad. But I feel that being in a public school will make life easier for her later,” she concludes.

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