Although it’s a hugely labour-intensive task, putting the annual EducationWorld survey of India’s most respected primary-secondary schools issue together every September, has its own rewards. For one, the annual survey enables us to measure the progress of the country’s 400-plus best schools — all of them national treasures to be carefully preserved and nurtured — utilising the barometer of informed public opinion. Secondly, our elaborate league tables offer usually insular school managements valuable information about how the (knowledgeable) public assesses their performance on 12 parameters which make for a holistic education experience for children.
Nevertheless right from the time we commissioned the first-ever survey of India’s most well-known primary-secondary schools in 2007, this painstaking exercise has generated more controversy than appreciation. For this we are not entirely blameless. In the very first survey of 2007, the basic methodology was flawed inasmuch as all schools — private, public, day, boarding and international — were lumped together for rating and ranking inter se.
The illogic of such omnibus surveys was explained to us by the Delhi-based market research agency C fore which conducted the first EducationWorld-C fore India’s Most Respected Schools Survey 2008, evaluating the relative merits of the country’s most well-known day, boarding and international schools on 12 parameters of education excellence, and ranked them separately. Since then, in the two subsequent annual surveys of schools countrywide, we have adopted this methodology and stuck with C fore and its knowledgeable promoter-director Premchand Palety who conducts our annual pan-India survey of schools.
The EW-C fore India’s Most Respected Schools Survey 2010, for which 2,062 respondents comprising a mix of fees-paying parents, principals and educationists countrywide were quizzed by C fore field-researchers over a period of three months, offers comprehensive information to parents searching for suitable schools for their children, and institutional managements striving to improve their performance and image. Admittedly, perceptual opinion polls are not an entirely accurate barometer of institutional performance because a school, whose public relations is better than education delivery, may well receive unwarrantedly higher ratings and ranking. But a high public profile is a two-edged sword. When things go wrong, the reputation of high-profile institutions plunges precipitously, as seen in the rankings of several schools in the EW-C fore 2010 survey.
With this, I commend the EducationWorld-C fore India’s Most Respected Schools Survey 2010 to our readers, schools and their stakeholders, with the caveat that the search for education excellence is a necessary and continuous process. And a solemn obligation to the nation’s short-changed children.