Over the past few months, several school managements across the country have voiced their concerns about the tremendous pressure they are facing from parents to provide high-quality education amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as well as address their demands for fee reduction and waivers. Schools affiliated with the premier Hague/Geneva-based International Baccalaureate (IB), which has established a reputation as one of the world’s most admired K-12 education organisations, in particular, say parents have ‘misinformation’ about IB schools, their fee structure and curriculum. They believe that though IB schools in India provide international education at one third of the fees charged by IB schools in foreign countries, there is pervasive misconception that they are ‘expensive and cater only to the elite’.
Comments Dr. Suresh Reddy, chairperson of the IB-affiliated Candor International School, Bangalore: “Parents have a lot misinformation about IB schools. They expect international schools to take more responsibility for their children’s education than Indian board schools. Schools have to spend a lot of time clarifying parents’ misconceptions and educating them about the IB curriculum and procedures. This pandemic has put a lot of pressure on schools to continue running the show and deliver quality education to students even while dealing with parents’ demands for fee reduction and questions on delivery of classes.”
Dr. Reddy adds that providing “globally benchmarked and rigorous” IB education comes with a lot of responsibility, both financial and operational. “A school to be recognised and affiliated with IB has to undergo a thorough review by the offshore board, pay annual fees in foreign currency for grade level affiliations – IBPYP, IBMYP, and IBDP and train teachers in the respective grade levels. Building and maintaining infrastructure facilities, following IB systems and procedures and regularly updating and upgrading them put quite a strain on the school’s administration,” he says.
Saad Sait, executive director, Legacy School, Bangalore and co-founder and executive director of Kai Early Years, Bangalore which is pursuing IB-PYP accreditation, believes that the IB curriculum offers an “exceptionally well-articulated, trans-disciplinary framework that focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both at school and beyond” with teachers requiring intensive training to deliver the IB curriculum. “In India, we have a very limited pool of qualified, trained and experienced teachers that can effectively deliver the IB-Primary Years Programme (IB-PYP) programme in the early years. IB World Schools invest generously in faculty training and development and the learning environment as they believe these are the most critical factors that influence a school’s ability to offer globally comparable education,” says Sait.
He adds when a school receives IB accreditation, there is an ongoing expectation to strive for excellence. “The IB team visits authorised schools every five years to re-evaluate the schools across each of the different standards and practices, and to examine the evidences across all facets of the school, right from the school’s purpose, culture, governance, leadership, policies, curriculum, pedagogical expertise, approaches to teaching and assessment, learning environment, teacher support and professional development, student engagement, learning and outcomes to name a few.”
‘IB schools in India are affordable compared to other countries’
Rajesh Vasudevan, head of school, Manchester International School, Coimbatore says IB programme can be delivered at an affordable cost. “It’s a myth that only elite people can afford an IB school as when the international curriculum was introduced in schools in our country, only a few selective schools with wealthy managements could afford to be accredited with the offshore board. Therefore the brand started being tagged pricey. IB is considered to be the first or final step to pursue studies abroad. But the facilities and services are now affordable,” he says.
Despite being globally recognised for its rigour and quality, the IB PYP programme is offered at a significantly lower cost in India. Schools in Abu Dabi and Kuwait charge Rs 6.5 lakh and Rs 9.5 lakh per annum for kindergarten education respectively. In Vietnam, it costs Rs 7.75 lakh, Singapore Rs 15.6 lakh and Bangladesh Rs 14.5 lakh per annum. In Pakistan, Pre-K to Kindergarten education ranges between Rs 8.7 lakh to 17.12 lakh annually. “At Kai, Pre-K to K2 education would cost Rs 3.75 lakh per year. So when parents want the best of what is being offered in the world, we are still offering them at a fraction of the actual cost. It would be highly unfair to compare IB-PYP school with a regular preschool or a franchise preschool,” says Sait.National, News