Cover Story

EducationWorld-C fore Schools Survey 2010

The EW-C fore India’s Most Respected Schools Survey 2010 rates over 400 of the country’s well-known primary-secondaries on the basis of perceptual rating scores awarded by a carefully constituted sample respondents base of 2,062 parents, principals, teachers and educationists countrywide across 12 parameters of excellence. Dilip Thakore reports

The annual EducationWorld-C fore India’s Most Respected Schools Survey 2010 has created a churn within the top ranks of the country’s day, boarding and international schools. Since the first EducationWorld survey of India’s most respected primary-secondary schools was initiated in 2007, hitherto ignorant and/or indifferent school managements have become aware of the importance of institutional image projection and public perception and opinion. The dawning of such awareness is in the public interest because the EW-C fore ranking exercise compels school managements to get their act together and pay attention to parameters of education excellence such as infra-structure upgradation, raising faculty competence levels, demonstrating institutional leadership, deepening parental involvement and improving sports education.

The EW-C fore India’s Most Resp-ected Schools Survey 2010 rates over 400 of the country’s well-known primary-secondaries on the basis of perceptual rating scores awarded by a carefully constituted sample respondents base of 2,062 parents, principals, teachers and educationists countrywide on 12 parameters of excellence. The scores awarded under each parameter are totaled to arrive at the annual ranking of schools.

Although arts, science and commerce colleges are rated and ranked annually by several news magazines such as India Today and Outlook, and B-schools are tediously ranked by every business magazine and pink newspaper, EducationWorld’s pioneering initiative to annually rate and rank the country’s top day, traditional boarding and new genre international schools has generated controversy ab initio, from the very first survey conducted in 2007.

In the first survey in which the Delhi Public School, R.K. Puram was ranked as India’s top primary-secondary, the assessment methodology was flawed, inasmuch as day, boarding and inter-national schools — apples, oranges and pomegranates — were rated and ranked inter se without segregation. In 2008 when market research agency C fore was appointed to conduct the pan-India survey, day, boarding and international schools were segregated and ranked separately in each category, providing a more rational basis for evaluation of their relative merits. In the two subsequent India’s Most Resp-ected Schools surveys this segregated categorisation has been maintained.

Nonetheless every EW-C fore annual survey has aroused strong passions including anger, indignation, and resentment. Irate principals and teachers dissatisfied with the ratings awarded to their schools have written letters (duly published in our mailbox section) with some issuing legal notices. Cocooned within their institutions and monarchs of all they survey within their campus gates, the overwhelming majority of principals and teachers, if not prom-oters, don’t seem aware of the basic principles of conducting opinion polls and/or perceptual surveys.

Therefore the most common complaint is that ratings and rankings are made without research and evaluation personnel actually visiting their establishments. That, ladies and gentlemen please note, is the process for accreditation (conducted by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council for colleges and universities).

On the other hand, world over, ratings on several rational parameters of performance and ranking of education institutions (and presidential and government performance) are condu-cted on the basis of perceptual polls, a well-established process in which an intelligently weighted base of knowl-edgeable respondents is quizzed on their assessment of institutions across various parameters. For opinion polling personnel to visit each and every institution assessed would involve investment of huge resources in terms of time and money — an impractical proposition.

Although the great majority of school principals regard the EW-C fore India’s Most Respected Schools surveys an intrusion, perhaps because they tend to puncture the illusions and self-delusion of promoters and principals, informed educationists believe they serve a useful social purpose. “I’m not sure the parameters chosen for the EW-C fore surveys to assess school excellence are wholly appropriate. But having said that, such surveys and the publishing of league tables serve the useful purpose of keeping school managements on their toes and compels them to keep improving their pedagogies, curriculums and infrastructure, and make them accountable to their parents and students communities, as also the wider public. The public interest is always served when there is accountability,” says Shomie Das, a former physics teacher at the globally famous Gordon-stoun School, UK (among his students: Prince Charles of Wales) and former headmaster of Mayo College (Ajmer), Lawrence (Sanawar) and Doon School (Dehradun). Currently Das is a globally-renowned Dehradun-based education consultant.

The task of compiling the league tables of India’s Most Respected Schools Survey 2010 was once again assigned to the Delhi-based market research and opinion polls company C fore (Centre for forecasting and research) Pvt. Ltd (estb. 2000). Starting in June, over 50 C fore field researchers fanned out across 16 cities countrywide including the four metros (Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata), mini-metros (Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Vadodara, Ahme-dabad, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Bhopal, Shillong, and Jamshedpur) and in education hubs with high concentration of schools (Dehradun, Darjeeling) to interview  a mix of SEC (socio-economic category) A parents (based on education and occupa-tion), principals, educationists and teachers.

Respondents were asked to rate well-known primary-secondary schools (selected by EducationWorld) in four regions (east, west, north and south India) on 12 parameters of education excellence, viz, academic reputation, co-curricular and sports education, comp-etence of faculty, individual attention to students, value for money, institutional leadership, infrastructure provision, parental involvement, quality of alumni, institutional integrity and admissions transparency. This year only schools that offered international curriculums in primary and/or middle years were classified as international. Day, boarding and international schools were awarded scores out of a maximum of 100 (except for the critical component of comp-etence of faculty which is given a weightage of 200) by respondents. Low-profile schools unknown to at least 25 respondents have been eliminated from the league tables.

“The sample base constituted for the EW-C fore India’s Most Respected Schools Survey 2010 aggregated to 2,062 respondents countrywide with fees-paying parents comprising 60 percent of respondents. They were asked to rate day, boarding and international schools on each of the 12 parameters of excellence with low-profile schools unknown to at least 25 respondents not included in the league tables. The rating scores awarded on a scale of ten — and multiplied by ten under each parameter — by each respondent were totaled to form the basis of the rankings,” says Premchand Palety, the Delhi-based promoter-chief executive of C fore which has been rating and ranking education institutions including B-schools for the past decade for reputed publications such as Hindustan Times, Business India, Mint and Outlook, among others.

The most notable features of the fourth annual survey of India’s most respected schools is the churn at the top in each of the three categories. Delhi’s Shri Ram School which topped the day schools league table in 2008 and 2009, has been pushed to second place (together with Mallya Aditi School, Bangalore) by the Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai.

In the residential/boarding category, while not dislodged from the top of the league table, this year Doon School, Dehradun which has been continuously voted the country’s most respected boarding school for the past four years, has to share No.1 spot with the conspicuously eco-friendly Rishi Valley School, Chittoor (Andhra Pradesh), established by seer and sage J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986) in 1926. Moreover India’s premier girls’ schools — Mayo Girls, Ajmer and Welham Girls, Dehradun — have vaulted to the top of the traditional boarding schools league tables this year as has the Assam Valley School, Balipara. And in the international schools 2010 league table, after a three-year reign, Woodstock, Mussoorie has been comprehensively bested by its former affiliate, the Kodaikanal International School.

“A noteworthy feature of this year’s league tables is the sharp downgrading of the country’s hitherto highly resp-ected missionary or convent schools, especially in the day schools category. My reading of this is there’s a signi-ficant gap between the expectations of  new age parents and what some hitherto venerated missionary schools with  great historical legacies are delivering, especially in the area of individual attention to students. Perhaps unable to withstand intense pressure for admissions, their teacher-pupil ratios have risen continuously to over 1:70 in some cases whereas the norm in excellent schools seldom exceeds 1:30. Hence the disenchantment with them, especially among young parents,” says Palety, an alumnus of Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh and the Fore School of Management, Delhi who acquired over 15 years of hands-on experience in market research before promoting C fore in 2000.

In the following pages of this much-awaited annual survey and cover story, we present detailed national, regional and parametral (perceptual) ratings and rankings of India’s leading primary-secondary schools which are set to become more inclusive following the enactment of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (aka the RTE Act). Under s.12 of the Act, all schools — including private unaided or independent schools — are obliged to annually admit poor children from their neighbourhoods upto 25 percent of enrolment in class I and retain them until class VIII.

With the passage of the RTE Act, a new era has dawned for primary-secondary education in India. The EW-C fore India’s Most Respected Schools Survey 2010 provides educationists, school promoters, principals and parents a wealth of information and plethora of insights related to holistic 21st century education, on the basis of which they can make their own independent evalua-tions of India’s most respected schools.

Download India's Top 10 day, boarding and international schools /userfiles/file/India's%20Top%2010.pdf