Among the most important areas for expats to consider before relocating to any country is schooling. As a parent, your child will always come first, nothing is as important as the well-being and happiness of your child. But, finding the right school for your child in a new country can be a daunting experience.
There’s a lot to consider while selecting a school, the curriculum, the philosophy of the school, the teaching methodologies, and even the amenities and sports facilities. You want a school that will help your child grow on a holistic level. There is the pressure of timelines and also the consideration that good schools in India are extremely competitive due to a limited number of seats. Here are a few things to consider as an expat searching for the right school for your kids.
Have you ever booked an AirBnB room and found that there was an absolute disconnect between what was perceived (expectations) and what was presented (reality)? In a world where businesses and institutions are focusing so much on what they wish to project, there is a heavy focus on areas such as websites and digital marketing. Think if their kids planned to go to college or school in your home country. You would check out the website, see if what the website projects is aligned with your needs, and then plan a campus tour before you finalize anything. In fact, you may have an entire list of safety schools and colleges and may end up visiting at least 4-5 campuses before taking an informed decision. Expats, on the other hand, don’t often get that option. You have to trust the website and social media channels of the school, first hand. This is dangerous because anyone with a marketing budget can easily create an aesthetic website and the content will be a reflection of their content writers, not of the actual school itself. Because this is a major life decision and not an easy one at that, it is imperative to take a more informed decision. One way to do that is to have a word with relocation experts who have the tie-ups and affiliations that you can trust to find a genuinely good school.
Here is some basic information about the schooling system in India that you may find useful as you go about making your choice.
The Indian public school system
While this is the most economical schooling system in India, it’s certainly not the wise choice for an expat. The public schools cater to vast populations of kids. You may find the syllabus challenging in terms of learning native languages which are compulsory in these schools. Teachers may sometimes resort to teaching in the local languages to reach more students or to relate to them, in such cases, there will be a language barrier issue as well. Since these humble schools run on government aid, there are not as many amenities or facilities as compared to the average public school in a developed country. The class sizes are very large, making learning in a new environment even more challenging.
Private schooling in India
During their time in India, the British built and established schools in many major cities in India. These colonial schools are now legacy schools and most boast excellent reputations and maintain exceedingly high academic standards. These schools have no language barrier as the medium of teaching is English. Another pro is that your children will be exposed to a mélange of cultures and various socio-economic backgrounds which can be a grounding experience for your them. It may also help your kids settle in and get acclimatized faster. The downside is that these schools are often very competitive. Hard work is the cornerstone of culture in most Asian countries, including India. However sometimes, it’s taken too far, your child may have trouble giving multiple exams a day or may not be able to cope up with the rest of the class. It is also sometimes believed that these schools maintain a higher than usual focus on academics, with a resulting lower focus on other co and extra-curricular activities.
International schooling in India
This is definitely your best bet now. Not only do these schools in India maintain the international curriculum and standards, but the best international schools are on par in terms of facilities, amenities, and smarter campuses. Your child may simply pick up from where he/she left off in their home country. Many expats send their kids to international schools, so you will be able to raise your kids in a more cosmopolitan atmosphere where your kid will have a more global approach towards life. The various options in International schools are IB (International Baccalaureate, https://www.ibo.org/ ) or IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education, www.cambridgeinternational.org/programmes-and…/cambridge…igcse/curriculum/ )
Consider the culture shock
Indian culture is just about starting to loosen its grips on the more traditional heritage and is on the path to being more open-minded. However, you will find that a section of society that sends their kids to even the best schools may have a very conservative mindset. This means that you must brief your children about what’s appropriate, terminology or slang words to avoid, and also on how to carry and conduct themselves. This goes for a variety of private schools too. International schools are driven by managers and teachers who are trained to be more open and understanding, so the environment is not as strict and academically focused as compared to these private or public schools. In fact, in some international schools in the bigger centers, there is a growing trend of hiring expat teachers as well – so a completely international experience is provided.
All said and done, the child has a hard time with such a move too! It’s not easy to step out of their comfort zone at such a tender age, especially when they’re relocating to a foreign land which is infused with varied cultures, religions, backgrounds, and tradition. If you ever had to relocate as a child, you would remember that sinking feeling of not wanting to leave your best friends behind, you’d remember missing your school, and the bonds with the teachers and peers around you.
In conclusion, choosing the perfect school is no child’s play, and is a critical decision. Your kids spend more time in school than they do at home which is why picking the right school for your kids is so important. There is a lot to be considered in general, and even more when you’re moving to another country. It’s best to seek help from the experts. For eg., a quality relocation agency has all the right connections with the right people so that the transition is painless and smooth for you and your child. The agency will have relationships with all the right schools so that you can rest assured knowing that your child will receive the best attention – and nothing less.