Intel’s commendable focus

I read with interest your cover story on Intel India’s education initiatives (EW October). The country needs a host of such initiatives to be able to cover up the lacunae in its education system.

It is commendable that Intel is trying to bridge the digital divide by focusing its education programmes on government school teachers. Hopefully the next generation of children graduating from government schools will be as tech savvy as their private school educated counterparts and able to take full advantage of burgeoning job opportunities in our rapidly growing economy.

As you rightly point out, such CSR initiatives are limited in themselves and ultimately it is up to the government to see the writing on the wall and set the education system right before it is too late. The way forward is private-public partnerships and hopefully the worth of such initiatives will be recognised and multiplied manifold to fully harvest our demographic dividend.

Suryaprasad Tripathi

Leave private schools alone

Thanks for the in-depth special report on the Right to the Education Bill (EW October). I agree with the author that the public debate on the RTE Bill has been hijacked by Leftists and education NGOs. In the guise of establishing a common school system, they want to nationalise private schools — a ridiculous suggestion to say the least. As Summiya Yasmeen writes, private schools “are the one bright spot of a moribund education system”, and any attempt to meddle with their indepen-dence must be resisted by the public.

The objective of enacting the RTE Bill, 2008 is to ensure that the State provides free elementary education to all children aged between six-14. It’s not about how private schools can expand capacity to offer free education to poor children. The world over, including the US, it’s the duty of the State to provide free primary education to all children.

Shankar Tambe

Matchless survey

I was delighted to read the cover story ‘India’s Most Respected Schools’ in the September issue of EducationWorld. It was matchless in content and presentation.

EducationWorld is truly educative and a great help to teachers and students to improve standards. It is a matter of great pride and elation that City Montessori School, Lucknow has been rated as one of the ten best schools in India under the parameter of selectivity.
You deserve the thanks and compliments of all educationists and teachers.

Jagdish Gandhi
City Montessori School, Lucknow

Futile exercise

This is with reference to the ‘India’s Most Respected Schools Survey 2008’ (EW September). Being a proud alumnus of Mayo College Girls’ School, Ajmer, I was shocked to see that the school has been rated so low in your rankings. This outcome highlights the shortcomings of your methodology, else a school which has consistently proven itself in every field over the past so many years would not be displaced by other lesser deserving institutions.

What amuses me about your survey is that it’s based entirely on public opinion and facts have been conveniently overlooked; else a school which has the history of producing national toppers in CISCE board examinations would not be ranked 9th on the parameter of academic reputation. Almost all students are placed in the first division, with at least 75 percent of them securing distinctions each year; the average result of the graduating batch is as high as 80-85 percent; some things your research agency has evidently failed to notice! The performance of our alumni bears testimony to the superior academic standards of Mayo.

The purpose of your survey should have been to inform the public about the facts so that they can form a rational opinion; however, your reliance on “informed public opinion” instead of facts has made the whole exercise futile!

It is highly irresponsible on the part of both, the magazine and the rating agency, to publish a report based merely on opinions which are susceptible to a strong degree of bias. If it’s only public opinion that dictates how good a school is, I wonder why a school would bother about the quality of education when it could top the charts by advertising itself!

Sanjhi Agrawal on e-mail

Disrespectful title

I was surprised and taken aback to see your cover story titled ‘India’s Most Respected Schools’ (EW September). By default it sends a message to other schools which are not listed in your prestigious magazine that there is no respect for their ‘small’ educational efforts.

There are quite a number of schools across the country which are doing honourable work incognito in rural areas. Obviously they don’t qualify as ‘respectable’ according to the parameters laid down by your team of experts. But let me say that even a small and sincere effort in education means a meaningful drop in the ocean.

I am an avid reader of your magazine and didn’t expect this title on the cover page of EducationWorld. I am writing all this to you because I am sure it is reaching discerning ears and a thinking mind.

Shashi Thakar
Panchgani (Maharashtra)

Arbitrary & unfounded

This is with reference to your cover story ‘India’s most respected schools’ (EW September). While we are pleased to see that Welham Girls’ is ranked among the top residential schools, and the No. 1 girls’ residential school in India, we feel that the results and ratings are arbitrary and contrived.

In an area which is our strength — academics — we have been rated very low. In this year’s ISC (class XII) exams, out of 80 girls 43 averaged above 90 percent, 29 between 80-89 percent and only eight between 70-79 percent. Nor is this a flash in the pan: our results have been excellent for some years now. Yet under the parameter of ‘competence of faculty’ we have been rated below several schools, in the north zone, whose board results are significantly lower than ours.

Likewise on the parameter of quality of alumni we have been ranked lower than Mayo College Girls, a school barely 20 years old, whose alumnae have not yet made any impact on the national scene. Meanwhile our alumnae include Brinda Karat, Subhasini Ali, Deepa Mehta, Laila Tyabji, Mrinalini Mukherjee, Mala Sen, Tavleen Singh, and Radhika Roy, among others.

Any code of ethics demands that you write to say that you are including our school in your survey. I am disturbed this was not done. I would like to conclude by saying that such arbitrary and unfounded rankings are misleading and cause unnecessary heartburn, specially when the attributes given to the schools have not been confirmed by the team that is writing about them.

For the future my faculty and I would be happy to welcome you or the team from C fore to our campus at any time.

Mrs. J. Brar, Principal
Welham Girls’ School,

In a democratic society, public institutions don’t need to be asked to ‘participate’ in public surveys. Moreover given that the survey respondents sample comprised a mix of 2,026 knowledgeable parents, principals, teachers and educationists, the EW survey cannot be described as arbitrary and unfounded — Editor

Blatantly biased

We are subscribers of EducationWorld and believed that your magazine made every endeavour to maintain its credibility as a quality periodical. But we were appalled to read the EW Survey of Schools 2008 (EW September). It is so blatantly biased and there seems no credible criteria in differentiating schools from each other.

Apparently your team visited Mayo College. If so, why did they not visit Mayo College Girls, which is just across the wall and shares the same board of governors? It seems very much like a deliberate omission and least expected of a magazine which professes to be working for the cause of education.

We understand you are planning a seminar in Ajmer shortly. There is no question of anyone from our school attending after our experience with EducationWorld. We would not wish to be associated with a periodical which has not earned our respect as a magazine of repute.

Mayo College Girls

When you elect your political representatives, do you visit their homes, offices or constituencies? Or do you vote according to public percep-tion and reputation? — Editor

Sensible separation

I have just read your September issue and am writing to congratulate you on the extensive EducationWorld-C fore Survey of Schools 2008.

It’s an impressive achievement, and I’m particularly pleased that you have separated out the category of international schools this time round. It makes sense, and enables the schools data to be presented with a clarity and coherence that was missing before. It was fascinating to read through the lists in the three separate categories, and remind myself of the variety and the quality of schools in India today.

My best wishes to EducationWorld and the valuable service that you provide for all of us interested in quality education in India and around the world.

David Jeffery
Cambridge International Examinations
Cambridge, UK

Disappointing lottery

I refer to your cover story featuring the EW-C fore survey of India’s most respected schools (EW September). I am the principal of Rashtriya Military School, Ajmer (estb. 1930), a CBSE affiliated residential institution under the Union ministry of defence.

Your pioneering effort in commissio-ning a survey of this nature is appreciated. However, the intellectual rigour and integrity of the survey, based on my experience and knowledge spread over 20 years of at least 25 percent of the schools surveyed, coupled with the methodology employed, makes the rankings open to serious question and doubt.

The first point of contention is with the methodology adopted; 2,026 perceptors for 250 schools from 15 cities without in-depth hard data on the schools and their activities transforms the survey into a lottery prone to severe aberrations. EducationWorld could in fairness to the schools, have prepared a detailed questionnaire for the chosen schools on all aspects of management, academics and administration, since visits to the schools are not possible as you say.

My final point is about the aims and objectives of individual schools. How successful are they in fructifying their aims and objectives? Should this not be one of the parameters in the survey? If so, almost all of the Sainik, Military and Army schools would have been on the list based on the high degree of success in achieving their aims and objectives. RIMC, Ajmer achieves almost 100 percent success on this score.

I am constrained to note that based on my knowledge of the schools surveyed, public relations and commercial interests seem to have overtaken credibility and fairness.

Mr. Thakore, your pedigree as the founder-editor of Businessworld and Business India as also of this magazine made us believe in you. But you have disappointed us.

Lt. Col. A Sekhar, Principal
Rashtriya Military School, Ajmer

Survey suggestions

The EW-Cfore Schools Survey 2008 (EW September) was very comprehensive, indeed, thank you. I also greatly appreciated the choice of parameters for the survey.

Without taking any credit away from the survey may I suggest that, in future, one could build in the following parameters — pastoral care (specially for residential schools); quality of hostel wardens (for residential schools); student rating; happiness profile; social responsibility; self concept of students and teachers.

Brig. Tirgunesh Mukherjee (AVSM)