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St. John’s International Residential School, Chennai

In the pathbreaking EducationWorld-IMRB ranking of India’s most respected schools, SJIRS was ranked the top boarding school in south India and third among all residential schools countrywide

Socio-economically, although not industrially, the southern state of Tamil Nadu (pop. 62 million) is nationally reputed for its conservatism. Therefore it has been relatively slow in accepting the new genre of capital-intensive international residential schools which are generating considerable excitement in other states across the country. However, at the turn of the century, several nexgen international schools have become popular with Tamil Nadu’s parental community, which has traditionally accorded high importance to quality education for their children. Among them: the Chinmaya International Residential School, Coimbatore (estb. 1996) and Velammal International School, Chennai (estb. 2004).

Yet the precursor of all nexgen schools, is the St. John’s International Residential School (SJIRS estb. 1993). In the short span of 14 years, SJIRS has attained an excellent reputation for blending contemporary education pedagogies and technologies with moral and physical education in a liberal, student-friendly environment. In the path-breaking EducationWorld-IMRB ranking of India’s most respected schools (EW August), SJIRS was ranked the top boarding school in south India and third among all residential schools countrywide.

Promoted by the St. John’s Educational Trust, constituted in 1973 by the late Rev. Dr. G. Rajkumar, SJIRS is affiliated with the Delhi-based Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). The trust administers eight other schools in the city including the recently (April) promoted St. John’s Cambridge International School offering the IGCSE curriculum.

SJIRS which sprawls over a verdant 30 acre circular campus in Palanjur on the Chennai-Bangalore highway, admitted its first batch of 98 students in 1993. Currently it has an aggregate enrollment of 600 students (150 girls and 450 boys) instructed by 82 teachers, 13 physical training teachers and three part-time trainers for chess, table tennis and volleyball. Though most of its students are indigenous, the school also has pupils from several Asian countries including Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bhutan, Singapore, and Nepal, besides Canada, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on its muster roll.

"The prime objective behind the promotion of SJIRS was to provide holistic education, with special emphasis on personality development in a contemporary residential environment. Today our mission is to shape bold and confident future leaders who can contribute to society, and succeed in the rapidly changing modern world. Simultaneously, we are conscious of the need to help our students appreciate the rich cultural heritage of India and rise above the barriers of religion, caste and community. Our ultimate goal is to develop happy and well-adjusted children," says Dr. R. Kishore Kumar, an alumnus of Madras University with a doctorate in child education from Los Angeles University and currently senior principal of SJIRS.

The outstanding feature of the school is its superb infrastructure which caters to every need of students. SJIRS is served by a fully computerised, air conditioned library, stocked with over 14,000 volumes, and 42 newspaper and journal subscriptions besides a digital section with more than 500 CD-ROMS, educational video and audio cassettes; a state-of-the-art computer lab with 125 terminals; five well-equipped science labs; a junior level (class IV-VIII) science creative laboratory with over 100 fabricated working and static models to teach concepts in physics; an activity-oriented maths lab; a Knowledge Centre with 3,000 plus video modules and a hi-tech digitalised audio- visual studio which serves as a projection theatre, digital library, browsing centre and language lab and is equipped with 45 PCs.

To this impressive array of hi-tech equipment add a multimedia language lab with software from Finland; a desktop publishing department; a huge indoor stadium and theatre (Hebron Hall) with basketball, badminton, table tennis, billiards and gym facilities; a 350-seat air conditioned auditorium and an open air auditorium with stage; and the Apollo-St. John’s Medical Centre with 24 beds and facilities of a full-fledged hospital. Sports and games facilities include a 400- metre athletics track, separate cricket, soccer and hockey grounds and multiple courts for basketball, lawn tennis, volley ball, badminton and hand ball. A video games parlour, internet centre, cafeteria, departmental store, art and music rooms are other facilities on campus.

Given this plethora of teaching-learning aids and facilities and a conducive learning environment, the school’s students have recorded 100 percent pass percentages in CBSE’s science and commerce streams in the past two years, with the highest average scores crossing 90 percent. The co-curricular education menu is also impressive and includes creativity, life skills and personality development programmes as well as dance, vocal and instrumental music, visual arts, screen printing and flower arrangement.

Fully aware that a school is only as good as its teachers, the SJIRS management conducts regular orientation and in-service training programmes for teachers and has adopted the Wipro Applying Thought in Schools programme to empower them. An academic coordinator verifies every teacher’s work periodically even as teachers play the role of foster parents and counsellors to students.

Looking optimistically towards the future, Kishore Kumar comments: "Our motto is: ‘give us a child and take back a leader.’ Therefore we encourage character development and respect for values among our students and continuously develop our teachers into expert educationists. In this connection, we are planning to start a residential teacher training institute under the St. John’s banner in the near future."

Quite clearly the SJIRS growth and development story is not over.

Admission and fees

St. John’s International Residential School, Chennai is a class IV-XII school affiliated to the Delhi-based Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Completed application forms should be sent to the school office along with a registration fee of Rs.5,000. Admission is on the basis of an entrance test and interview conducted in the months of March, April and May. Overseas candidates who cannot come to India are eligible to apply for a postal entrance test for an additional fee of Rs.10,000.

Tuition fees (per year). Classes IV-VIII: Rs.1,20,000-1,40,000 (inclusive of boarding, tuition and other charges); Classes IX-XII: Rs.1,35,000-1,55,000.

For further details contact The Principal, St John’s International Residential School, St. John’s Nagar, Palanjur Village, Nazarathpet Post, near Poonamallee, Chennai 602103. Tel: 26810795, 26811795, 26811403.

Hemalatha Raghupathi

University of Glasgow, UK 

Ranked among the top dozen universities of the UK, Glasgow offers a complete range of academic and professional programmes

Sited in western Scotland overlooking the Scottish highlands, the University of Glasgow (estb. 1451) is one of Britain’s oldest and most prestigious education institutions. With an academic heritage spanning six centuries, Glasgow University was recently (2007) ranked in the top 100 universities of the world (and 12th in the UK) by the Times Higher Education Supplement. The university is a member of the elite Russell Group of research-led British universities, and a founding member of the organisation Universitas 21, an international grouping of universities dedicated to setting globally accepted standards for higher education.

With an enrollment of 16,000 undergrad and 4,000 postgrad students in over 100 academic departments across nine faculties, Glasgow is also one of Britain’s largest universities offering a complete range of professional studies including law, medicine, dentistry and engineering, combined with a comprehensive range of academic studies including science, social sciences, ancient and modern languages, literature, and history.

"We are continually developing our work-related learning opportunities and encouraging entrepreneurship: you can get involved in voluntary work, study abroad, become involved in student organisations and societies, and take advantage of a whole range of services which help you build and develop your own particular set of skills," says Sir Muir Russell, principal and vice-chancellor.

Glasgow U has the fourth largest financial endowment — £124 million (Rs.992 crore) — among UK universities. During the past five years, the university has invested £152 million (Rs.1,216 crore) in new facilities and has appointed over 400 new academic staff, including 68 professors, in leading academic areas. Moreover a sum of £300 million has been earmarked for infrastructure upgradation over the next three years.

Glasgow. Scotland’s largest city with a population of 600,000, Glasgow offers students the bustle of a large city as well as picturesque parks and gardens for quiet contemplation. Recently Glasgow was named the second favourite city of the UK, after London, by readers of Condé Nast Traveller magazine. Reputed for its Gothic architecture and extensive parklands (there are over 80 public parks in Glasgow), Scotland’s most vibrant city is well-connected by road, rail and air to London and other major cities in the UK and Europe. The city boasts numerous shops ranging from ethnic art to high fashion, many bars and restaurants offering authentic Italian, Chinese, Indian and traditional Scottish fare at prices suitable to most pockets.

The average temperature in summer is 14oC while in the winter months it’s 5oC. Rainfall is common in all seasons and rapid weather changes can take place over a period of a few hours. It’s cold and damp in winter, though severe snowfalls are infrequent.

Campus facilities. One of the oldest universities of the United Kingdom, Glasgow has a compact tree-lined campus surrounded with Victorian/ Gothic buildings in the scenic West End of the city, a site it has occupied since 1870. The major attraction of the Gilmorehill campus is the imposing main university building designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in quintessential Gothic style. Most of the university’s departments are located on the Gilmorehill campus, which hosts over 100 heritage buildings reflecting a vast range of styles. The university’s Garscube campus houses the Vet School and outdoor sports facilities and is just four miles further out of the city. The Crichton campus is located on the outskirts of Dumfries, in south-west Scotland.

The Glasgow University Library, built on 12 levels in 1968, is located beside the Hunterian Art Gallery, the oldest public museum in Scotland. With over 2 million books and journals, the library’s collection covers a plethora of subjects ranging from anatomy to Soviet studies.

Its exotic and scenic locale apart, the university offers an array of sports facilities including a 25-metre heated swimming pool, sauna and steam rooms, muscle conditioning and cardiovascular suites, squash courts, all-weather synthetic pitches, grass pitches for football and rugby, cricket oval, tennis courts and extensive walking and jogging routes. There is also a new centre for theatre, film and television with its own cinemas and theatre space.

With two student unions on campus and over 100 clubs including a world famous debating society, student life at Glasgow U is exciting and vibrant. The Glasgow student union’s extension area houses the Hive nightclub and seven bars including its world-famous Beer Bar.

Admission. Applications for admission to the University of Glasgow should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). For details on how to obtain a UCAS form visit Applications must be submitted to UCAS no later than October 15 for medicine, veterinary medicine, or dentistry degree programmes. For all other programmes, applications should be made by January 15, 2008.

For its undergrad programmes, the minumum eligibility is a Plus Two certificate. To prove proficiency in English, students whose first language is not English must pass TOEFL with a minimum score of 570 or 6.5 in the IELTS test conducted by the British Council. If applicants are still not upto the mark, the university’s English as a Foreign Language unit offers English language courses. Moreover overseas students who don’t have a Plus Two qualification recognised by the university have the option to enroll in the Glasgow International College’s one-year foundation courses.

For further information contact the Central Admissions Service, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ. Tel: +44 (0)141-330 2000; E-mail: Website:

Accommodation. Glasgow University offers housing ranging from halls of residence and student houses to self-contained flats. The five halls of residence and student houses, all located within easy walking distance of the main campus, comprise single or shared bedrooms. Most halls of residence provide meals while student houses are self catering with cooking facilities.

Other university-owned accommo-dation includes university flats in Glasgow city and private housing. The university’s accommodation office assists students in finding private housing.

egree programmes. As one of the largest universities in Britain, Glasgow University offers a wide variety of undergrad and postgrad degree programmes across nine faculties (see box). The university’s medical school is internationally reputed for academic excellence and was ranked first in The Times Higher Education Supplement’s 2004 ranking of UK university medical departments.

Scholastic options at Glasgow

Glasgow offers a wide range of undergrad and postgraduate programmes across nine faculties. For a detailed list of degree programmes offered by each faculty, visit

Arts: Tuition fee (per year) Â£9,000
Dentistry £21,600
Education £9,000
Engineering £11,800
Law, Business & Social Sciences £9,000
Medicine 20,100
Nursing £11,800
Sciences £11,800
Veterinary Medicine £16,500

Living expenses (incl. accommodation) £6,260

NB: £=Rs.80

Summiya Yasmeen

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