The annual EducationWorld primary-secondary schools rating and rankings issue is undoubtedly the most anticipated of the year. Even as this national opinion poll is being conducted and word gets around of the massive exercise of getting over 2,000 carefully selected parents, principals, teachers and educationists spread across the country to rate and rank schools in their region (north, south, east and west) from among 250 of the country’s most well-known schools according to the 12 parameters of academic performance (faculty competence, leadership quality, academic reputation, co-curricular and sports education etc), there is a flood of enquiries and solicitations. This enthusiasm indicates a growing awareness within the hitherto somnolent academic community of the importance of a positive institutional reputation which attracts not only the best students but also best teachers, project donations and public and government respect.
Assessing and ranking institutions of learning is serious business. Meticulous care and diligence needs to be exercised to ensure that the ratings on which the rankings are based are accurate and truly reflect the opinions of respondents. Therefore to constitute the base of sample respondents, conduct the opinion poll in 15 cities and education hubs countrywide, and collate and tabulate the data, we again retained the services of the Centre for Forecasting & Research (C fore), the well-known Delhi-based market research and opinion polls agency. C fore conducts college and B-school ranking surveys for several newspapers and periodicals including Hindustan Times, Mint, Business Standard and Outlook.
The outcome of this huge, three-month cross-country effort is our 50-plus page cover story offering national, regional and parametral ratings and rankings of India’s most well-known primary and secondary schools — a mine of information for those interested in the education and development of the world’s largest child population, as indeed all should be. Moreover this year we offer the additional benefit of the 2008 ratings and rankings, which enable measurement of the extent to which public perceptions of India’s best schools have risen or fallen.
However it is pertinent to bear in mind that the annual EW-C fore survey is a perceptual poll which reflects the sample respondents’ assessment under each of the 12 parameters of academic performance. Therefore they are opinions and shouldn’t be regarded as gospel.
Nevertheless public perceptions are more important than individual opinions. And the value of this survey is that it will enable school managements to conduct SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats) exercises, improve their community and public profiles by sharing and exchanging best practices inter se and with other schools not included in the survey. Simultaneously it will help parents and students to choose schools which suit their aspirations and aptitudes. To facilitate this, the EW-C fore Survey of Schools 2009 also includes a six-page supplementary Facts Sheet which offers hard data submitted by institutional managements who responded to our pre-poll questionnaire.
With this somewhat elaborate prologue, I commend this magnum issue to our readers.