Mood of the time

I was thrilled to read your cover story ‘Time to welcome foreign universities’ (EW October). The article captures the mood of the time perfectly. Dilip Thakore has made a strong case for government to unshackle the education sector, and allow foreign universities into the country.

This will give a dual benefit. First and foremost, Indian students will get access to globally recognised higher education at an affordable price. Another advantage is that the country will save enormous amounts of foreign exchange spent in the form of fees and living expenses by students going abroad to study.

Moreover with the exponential increase in the number of youth entering university year after year, India needs huge capacity expansion to enroll all these young students. A further benefit of inviting foreign universities is that they will inevitably attract students from third world countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Africa etc. This could earn us valuable foreign exchange.

On balance, there are more advantages in welcoming foreign universities rather than in hindering them. I hope the government realises this and we soon have Stanford and Harvard establishing campuses in India.

Suresh Kamat
Mangalore (Karnataka)

Much too few

I am a regular reader of EducationWorld since the past three years. I look forward to reading every issue of the magazine, because it contains detailed information about various aspects of education.

The special report on Kendriya Vidyalaya schools in the October issue was very impressive. I didn’t know there were so many KVs in the country and that they had produced such illustrious alumni, who have contributed to the growth of the nation. But with a huge population of 200 million school-age children, India needs more top-quality schools, especially in rural areas. The disadvantage of KVs is that they are mostly urban based and are accessible only to children of pampered government employees.

It’s high time the Central and state governments promoted several thousand more KVs in rural India to give the benefit of quality education to rural children, as well. After all government has a wider responsi-bility than merely providing for its own employees.

Satya Narayan H.V.

Curious nationally representative sample

With reference to the August 2007 cover story, we are impressed with your ambitious ranking of ‘India’s most respected schools’ using a "nationally representative sample". This objective is indeed path-breaking and commendable. But in such an ambitious project there are bound to be some discrepancies. I would like to place on record our observations on your survey.

In the east zone top schools’ league table, Loreto Convent, Darjeeling is ranked eighth and in India’s boarding schools’ league table, it is ranked as one of the top residential schools. This is surprising, because if the "nationally representative sample" had done their research, they would have been shocked to learn that Loreto closed down its boarding section almost 20 years ago!

However it is heartening for our school teachers to note that "eastern zone parents and teachers" acknowledged St. Joseph’s School, North Point as one of the heavyweights in the east zone. It was also encouraging that the "nationally representative sample" had given due weightage to several parameters while rating and ranking schools across the country.

I would like to draw the attention of the "nationally representative sample" to judge our institution according to these parameters. Our school is over 116 years old and boasts superior infrastructure including a centrally-heated outdoor swimming pool (in addition to an indoor one) at an altitude of 8,000 ft. above sea level. Moreover we are the only school in Darjeeling to have three state-of-the-art computer labs with broadband internet access. Our former students are studying in premier colleges of India and the world. The Rev. Fr. Kinley Tshering, an alumnus of IIM-Bangalore and our rector, has made us proud with his leadership and concern for management quality.

Quite obviously your "nationally representative sample" has overlooked such details while ranking India’s most respected schools. We request you to kindly put on record that St. Joseph’s, North Point is a unique school with attributes of excellence beyond the parameters set by the "nationally representative sample".

Sajid Ahmed
St. Joseph’s School, North Point

The EW-IMRB survey is based on broad public perception, not factual data. A thin slice of knowledgeable educationists are undoubtedly aware that St. Joseph’s, North Point is one of India’s most respected schools. But quite obviously you need to build your brand — Editor

False and misleading

We the students of Mayo College Girls’ School, Ajmer read your cover story ‘India’s most respected schools’ (EW August). We found it disappointing on a number of counts.

As "India’s pioneer market research firm", IMRB should have done better homework before drawing up its list of schools for rating and ranking. Your "path-breaking" story remains at best an opinion poll of a small random sample group. A thorough survey should have formally and officially investigated India’s best schools.

While public perception should be given weight, would it not have been better for the IMRB/EW team to have visited the schools and based their appraisal upon a more first-hand experience? The ranking, based as you yourself admit (in small print) "on perception rather than fact," is both false and misleading.

Another point that rankles is your patronising request in the letter from the editor for schools not ranked to refrain from despair, and to start talking about their achievements right away so that they may find a place in next year’s list. This is an example of media over-kill. Should a magazine like yours, concerned with quality education, advocate schools publicising their achievements? For us, that goes against the grain. While achievements are significant, "talking" about them is not good form.

The initial 250 schools surveyed were chosen by you. We wonder if our school featured in the list. We wonder if you are aware that the Mayo College Girls’ School is an institution in its own right, separate from Mayo College. We also wonder if you know that since our inception in 1988 we have achieved outstanding academic results and excelled in the fields of sport, art, music and dance, theatre and literary activities.

We have not publicised our achieve-ments because our school teaches us much more than achievements that can be measured — we learn hands-on, through community service and outreach programmes, the values of citizenship.

Believe us when we say that this is not a case of grapes being sour. It is our thoughts on what we would like to see on the pages of your magazine — true judgement and features that inform and educate rather than sensationalise. Don’t we have enough of that in every field without education institutions jumping onto the bandwagon?

Mayo College Girls’ School family

Soul-searching needed

Your cover story ‘India’s most respected schools’ (EW August) following a nationwide survey, has left us bewildered.

I’m surprised you haven’t ranked a leading residential educational institution for girls, Vidya Devi Jindal School at Hisar (Haryana). Established in 1984, the school is a member of many prestigious organisations such as the Round Square International Service and the Indian Public Schools Conference. Promoted by the ‘steel king of India’, the late O.P. Jindal, VDJS is one of five schools in the country to be awarded the International School Award of the British Council in 2004. Our students excel not only in academics but also in sports and extra-curricular activities.

It’s amazing that a reputed magazine like yours didn’t find our school worth mentioning! You may have a bit of soul-searching to do because of the inadequacy of your coverage. At the same time I feel you have done damage to the humble efforts of conscientious and dedicated institutions like ours. I hope to see another issue of your magazine ranking residential schools, but this time, with a broader perspective.

Lt. Colonel A.K. Suri
Vidya Devi Jindal School
Hisar, Haryana