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Bangalore’s top-ranked pre-primaries

EducationWorld December 16 | Cover Story EducationWorld

The annual EW Preschool Rankings generate considerable excitement and enthusiasm in the IT city which boasts a large number of double-income households of young parents. Here are Bangalore’s top-ranked pre-primaries:

Kavita Sabharwal and Priti Anand The ICT capital of the country, the once garden city of Bangalore (renamed Bengaluru in 2014 by language chauvinist politicians with total disregard for the brand equity the IT city enjoys around the world), hosts a large population estimated at 1 million engineers and software professionals employed by transnational IT/ICT companies such as Infosys Technologies and Wipro which have their head offices in the city, as also of other IT industry behemoths such as TCS and HCL. In addition, almost all major multi-billion dollar American IT multinationals including Microsoft, Dell and Texas Instruments among others, have established their India offices in Bangalore. 

This agglomeration of IT companies in this now overcrowded metro (pop. 9 million) with huge road traffic management problems, plus the social phenomenon of double-income households explains the large and rising number of pre-primary schools springing up on almost every street corner of the city. Mercifully spared the overweening attention of government education inspectors with perennially itching palms because politicians and bureaucrats have yet to cotton on to the importance of ECCE, private preschools of all shapes and sizes offering creche to education services at all price points are mushrooming in Bangalore. Moreover, since their success is driven by reputation, the annual EW Preschool Rankings generate considerable excitement and enthusiasm within the teaching and parents communities of the city. 

Proprietary Pre-primaries

This year there’s considerable rearrangement of seats at the Top 10 table of proprietary preschools mainly because of the entry of several pre-primaries of the Neev chain. Although Neev, Indiranagar (estb. 2005) has been ranked among the Top 5 since 2011 and is top-ranked this year, Neev, Whitefield and Neev, Koramangala are ranked #4 and #5. Consequently, the duopoly of the pioneer Head Start Montessori, Koramangala (estb. 1984) and the new genre Indus Early Learning Centre, Whitefield of the annual EW Bangalore Preschool Rankings has ended, with the latter obliged to share its #3 rank with Greenwood High Preschool, Whitefield this year. P. Sumana and Sreenivasa, Green Dot Montessori

Kavita Sabharwal, an alumna of the Harvard Business School, who established the first globally-benchmarked Neev, Indiranagar in 2005 and has since multiplied the number of Neev preschools in Bangalore to five with an aggregate enrolment of 600 children mentored by 150 highly-trained early childhood educators, is delighted that three Neev pre-primaries are ranked among the city’s Top 5.

“I believe the good reputation that Neev pre-primaries enjoy among young parents in Bangalore is due to our self-designed syllabus grounded in experiential learning and multiple intelligences theory, and the structured, written online and offline training curriculum which we persistently deliver to our teachers. As a result, we have developed a great team of innovative teachers always ready to experiment because they are provided strong scaffolding,” says Sabharwal, who has since ventured into primary-secondary education with the promotion of the IBO-affiliated class I-XII Neev Academy, Bangalore. 

Priti Anand, a science and education postgrad of Delhi University and area director and branch head of the pioneer Neev, Indiranagar, is specially pleased this preschool is top-ranked on five of the ten parameters of ECCE excellence. “It’s particularly satisfying that we are ranked #1 on the parameters of teacher welfare and development and innovative teaching and second for competence of teachers. I believe there’s a mutually reinforcing connection between these three parameters. This is what gives our teachers the confidence to experiment and innovate in their classrooms,” says Anand, who modestly declined to comment on this preschool’s top-ranking on the leadership parameter, attributing it to “a shared leadership style”. 

Deepa Lakshmi, SEED OMBRAlso ranked among Bangalore’s Top 10 proprietary preschools is the Green Dot Montessori, Hosur Rd (GDM, estb.2011) which is steadily moving up the annual league table. Ranked #13 in 2013 and #8 last year, this low-profile pre-primary is ranked #7 in 2016. 

“Although I’m happy that GDM is moving steadily up the EW annual league table, I’m not satisfied. We have modelled our pioneer GDM, on the consistently top-ranked Head Start Montessori and we expected to be ranked on a par with it. Nevertheless GDM has established a good reputation and we received two admission applications for every vacancy this year,” says J. Sreenivasa, an engineering and business management graduate of Bangalore University who wound up his electrical and construction firm and together with wife P. Sumana, an Indian Institute of Montessori Studies, Bangalore alumna, promoted GDM five years ago. Since then the number of Green Dot Montessori pre-primaries in Bangalore has increased to three with an aggregate enrolment of 600 children tutored by 65 teachers, and last year this duo promoted the K-12 Green Dot International School, Hosur on an eight-acre campus. 

With three Neev preschools having risen high in the esteem of the educationally informed Bangalore public this year, several other pre-primaries which were highly ranked in 2015 have been obliged to concede ground. Among them: WeCare, Sar-japur Rd, Fun & Learn, RT Nagar and Oi Playschool, HSR Layout. However, it’s pertinent to note that the three WeCare pre-primaries are ranked among Bangalore’s Top 20 and that the previously unranked Jain Toddlers, Jayanagar, promoted by the top-ranked Jain International School management, has impressively debuted in the Top 10. Sudha Ramesh, PJKP

Franchised preschools

Although the Mumbai-based heavyweight EuroKids preschools chain, which has franchised over 900 preschools across the country, the Mumbai-based Podar Jumbo Kids (260) and Tree House (230) have established substantial presence in Bangalore, the garden city’s top-ranked pre-primary of 2016 is SEED International, OMBR Layout, a franchisee of the Chennai-based SEED, Adyar which is ranked Chennai’s #1 proprietary preschool (see p. 78). Unlike the heavyweight preschool chains, Seed, Adyar has positioned itself as a quality rather than quantity pre-primaries chain which chooses its franchisees after detailed investigation, if not reluctance. 

Evidently this strategy has paid off because Bangalore’s top-ranked Seed International, OMBR Layout is top-ranked on five of the ten parameters of pre-primary education excellence followed by The Tree House, Domlur and Podar Jumbo Kids Plus, Banaswadi. EuroKids, RMV Extension which had pushed Seed International to #2 in 2015, is ranked a lowly #13 this year. 

R.K. Deepa Lakshmi, a computer applications alumna of NIT, Trichy and former Citibank, Tokyo manager who promoted Seed International in 2009, is overjoyed that the sustained effort invested by the school’s teachers and staff has been acknowledged by the well-informed sample respondents. “I am particularly happy with the substantially higher ratings awarded to Seed, OMBR Layout on the parameters of teacher competence and individual attention to students. If an ECCE centre fulfils these two attributes and provides a cheerful, safe and hygienic environment, everything else falls into place automatically,” she says. Currently, this pre-primary has an enrolment of 94 children aged two-five mentored by six teachers. 

Sudha Ramesh, a maths alumna of Bharatidasan and Annamalia univerities and promoter and centre director of Podar Jumbo Kids Plus (PJKP), Banaswadi is perhaps even more pleased that PJKP, which was ranked #9 in 2015 has risen sharply in the public esteem to be ranked #3 this year. “We are very pleased with the huge promotion given to our school by your sample respondents this year. We attract the best early childhood educators and pay them way above average teachers’ salaries in Bangalore. Despite this, our annual tuition fees are a modest Rs.40-55,000 as reflected by our high rank under the parameter of value for money. These top rankings give me the most satisfaction,” says Ramesh, who promoted PJKP as a franchisee preschool of the Mumbai-based Podar Jumbo Kids in 2005.

Further down the 25 preschools-strong Bangalore franchised preschools 2016 league table, two EuroKids preschools (Kalyan Nagar and 7th Phase, J.P. Nagar) have moved up a notch or two to be ranked among the Top 5. Likewise, three franchised schools promoted by Maple Bear India Pvt. Ltd — a joint venture of the Canada-based Maple Bear Global Schools Ltd and the Delhi-based Modi Edutech with 55 Maple Bear Canadian Preschools countrywide — have substantially improved their rankings.

The Bangalore preschools league table also includes four EuroKids pre-primaries and ten franchised preschools of the Mumbai-based Podar Jumbo Kids. 

To read the EW Bengaluru Preschool Rankings 2016 please visit: http://www.educationworld.in/rank-preschool/bengaluru/2016.html

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