Over the past four months 120 C fore field personnel interviewed 11,660 parents, principals, teachers and senior school students in 27 cities countrywide and persuaded them to rate schools in their region on a ten-point scale across 14 parameters of education excellence. Dilip Thakore & Summiya Yasmeen report
Over the past seven years since the annual EducationWorld India School Rankings (EWISR) were introduced to an unsuspecting public, they have generated great excitement and interest within the K-12 education community. Although Central and state government ministers and bureaucrats seem unaware, strong winds of change are blowing within the country’s estimated 80,000 (320,000 according to the Union HRD ministry which enumerates pre-primary, primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary schools as separate units) private schools which dominate the EW annual league tables.
However, its pertinent to note that your editors arent biased against government schools. Its just that almost the entire sample of 11,660 respondents — comprising middle class SEC A (socio-economic category A) fees-paying parents, principals, educationists and class X-XII students who have rated the countrys Top 1,000 best-known schools in their regions — are private school alumni and send their children to private schools. Uniquely, Indias entire 60 million upwardly mobile middle class households prefer to enroll their children in private schools, a telling commentary on the quality of education dispensed in the countrys 1.20 million government schools.
Nevertheless, to encourage government and even private budget schools which have mushroomed countrywide as the alternative of poor households to dysfunctional government schools, this year field representatives of the Delhi-based Centre for Forecasting and Research Pvt. Ltd (C fore) which has conducted all but one EW India School Rankings surveys, also interviewed a limited sample of 1,168 parents in SEC C, D and E categories to rate government and budget private schools on 14 and 12 parameters of primary-secondary education excellence. Therefore for the first time EWISR 2015 features league tables of private budget schools. The objective of this inclusion is to encourage excellence in all sectors of education for the benefit of children from households in every income group.
Moreover, in consonance with our commitment to continuous tightening up and improving the utility and credibility of the annual EWISR league tables, this year the respondents sample database comprising parents, principals, teachers and senior school students constituted by C fore has ballooned to 11,660 countrywide. Over the past four months, 120 C fore field personnel in 27 cities, viz, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow, Indore, Jamshedpur, Darjeeling, and Dehradun, among others, interviewed the sample respondents, persuading them to rate schools in their region on a 10-point scale across 14 parameters — academic reputation, co-curricular education, teacher welfare and development, competence of faculty (20 points), co-curricular activities, sports education, individual attention to students, life skills and conflict management education, infrastructure provision, leadership/ management quality, special needs education, internationalism etc.
To ensure reasonable familiarity, schools in each zone (east, west, north and south) were assessed and rated by sample respondents residing therein. Low-profile institutions rated by less than 25 individuals were excluded from the league tables.
EWISR 2015 rates and ranks schools in 14 different categories — day co-ed, day-cum-boarding, day boys, day girls; boarding co-ed, boys and girls; international day, day-cum-boarding, and wholly residential schools, and also government day, boarding, special needs and for the first time, budget private schools. This is the most comprehensive schools rating and ranking exercise in Indian history. Over 11,000 parents, principals, teachers, educationists and for the first time senior students, across the country, were interviewed by our field researchers over a four month period. The outcome of this massive exercise are over 100 league tables which provide valuable information to parents looking for schools suitable for the aptitudes and personalities of their children. Simultaneously, they give school promoters and principals useful feedback about the perceptions of an informed public of their relative strengths and weaknesses which could help them tighten up and upgrade their institutions. The annual EWISR surveys are very useful for Indian education, says Premchand Palety, an alumnus of Punjab Engineering College and Fore School of Management, Delhi and currently the promoter-director of C fore (estb. 2000).
Although widely accepted by K-12 educators and parents communities as transparent, fair and authoritative, the annual EWISR has attracted criticism from academic purists and pedants. A common criticism is that the league tables are based on the perceptions and prejudices of the sample respondents, and not on ground realities.
The impossibility of factually assessing institutions on ‘soft parameters such as leadership/management quality, individual attention to students, competence and commitment of faculty apart, measuring performance under other parameters would require enormous investment in terms of time and money. Even if factual data were to be solicited from schools themselves, a significant proportion of such voluntary information would have to be physically cross-checked for authenticity and accuracy. This explains why all the worlds top education (colleges, universities) rating and ranking agencies including the London-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and Times Higher Education rate and rank the worlds top universities on the basis of perceptual responses of informed respondents.
Publication of the annual EducationWorld India School Rankings league tables is a very necessary and important initiative which is useful for parents, principals and teachers. The parameters of assessment are well-chosen and comprehensive and a reminder to all stakeholders that theres more to education than academics. The EW league tables prompt school managements to strive for continuous improvement, boost teachers morale and develop institutional pride within school managements, teachers and students, says Dr. Shayama Chona, the legendary former principal of Delhi Public School, R.K. Puram (Delhi), where she served for 35 years (1978-2009), transforming it into a nationally top-ranked day-cum-boarding school. Currently, Dr. Chona is the founder-chairperson of the top-ranked Tamana Autism Centre in the national capital.
In the pages following, a plethora of league tables rating and ranking the countrys most admired schools in 14 different categories are presented. Such differentiation and categorisation is necessary to eliminate apples and oranges type of comparisons.
To view the EW India School Rankings 2015 visit www.educationworld.in/rank-school/2015/