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India’s best co-ed day schools 2021-22

EducationWorld November 2021 | Cover Story Magazine

This year the co-ed day schools league table rates 1,928 primary-secondaries — the largest of any category. It augurs well for better gender relations and greater social respect for girls and women in future

It is surely an indicator of social progress and emancipation that the largest league table in the annual EducationWorld India School Rankings (EWISR) is of co-ed day schools. This year’s league table of co-ed day schools with sufficiently high public profile to be included in the rankings survey (institutions ranked by less than 25 sample respondents are eliminated from the league tables) aggregates 1,948, by far the largest number in any category.

HXLS’ director Manit Jain: magnificent pandemic response

This augurs well for better gender relations and greater social respect for girls and women in future. If boys and girls fairly learn and study together from the early years, they are likely to become more empathetic and mutually respectful of each other. The number of all-boys and all-girls gender-segregated schools — although they serve a useful purpose in conservative societies and communities — is declining, and the country is certain to be better off if co-ed day (and residential) schools multiply.

It’s also all to the good that the co-ed day schools top table is dominated by primary-secondaries sited in the Delhi NCR region, which has a poor gender egalitarianism record and where crimes against women are widely prevalent. Indeed it would be fairly accurate to state without fear of contradiction, that the gender-egalitarian record of north India — especially of the educationally and socio-economically backward BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh) states which grudgingly host 60 percent of India’s 1.30 billion citizens — is poor, and girl children and women suffer gender discrimination and violence on a substantially greater scale than in any other of the Indian Union of 29 states and seven Union territories.

Inventure Academy students: Bengaluru

Against this depressing backdrop, it’s encouraging that four of the Top 5 most admired co-ed day schools ad seriatim — Heritage Xperiential Learning School (HXLS), Gurugram; Step-by-Step, Noida; Vasant Valley, Delhi; The Shri Ram School, Vasant Vihar/ Moulsari and Mother’s International, Delhi are sited in Delhi NCR (national capital region). The sole Top 5 schools beyond Delhi NCR are the KFI School, Adyar, Chennai and Cathedral & John Connon, Mumbai jointly ranked #5. 

Further down the Top 10 table, there is a greater geographical variety. After the vintage Cathedral & John Connon (CJCS, estb.1860) which has regained its #1 Maharashtra and Mumbai position, the 2021-22 sample respondents have ranked three Bangalore/Bengaluru schools #6-9 — Inventure Academy #6 (cf. #3 in 2020-21) and #1 in Karnataka; The Valley School and Mallya Aditi International jointly #7 (4 & 5) followed by Smt. Sulochanadevi Singhania, Thane (Mumbai) at #8. Three Hyderabad-based schools — CHIREC International and Glendale Academy jointly ranked #9 and #1 in Telangana/Hyderabad and Vidyaranya High School complete the Top 10. Also ranked #10 is the Nirmal Bhatia School, Delhi. 

CHIREC school, Hyderabad: library scene

CHIREC school, Hyderabad: library scene

“It was too much to expect from this year’s different sample respondents to also rank HXLS #1 for the third consecutive year. Therefore it’s a huge unexpected honour. I dedicate it to my team of teachers who despite being very stressed — two of them succumbed to the Covid virus —responded magnificently to the challenge of maintaining our children’s learning continuity. Together with our 11-strong edtech and software support team which devised an excellent LMS (learning management system) in record time, they implemented a robust digital literacy curriculum for all our students. I believe the quality of care and attention our empathetic teachers, fully supported by the parents’ community, provided to students is the prime factor behind HXLS being awarded #1 rank this year,” says Manit Jain, an alum of the Harvard School of Education and promoter-director of HXLS (estb.2003) which has 3,467 students mentored by 352 teachers.

Quality of teachers apart, Jain attributes the school’s excellent reputation to “constant change and adaptation of content and curriculum” in step with changing times. “This, combined with our institutional culture of continuous teacher training and development, is the open secret of our success,” says Jain. HXLS apart, the Heritage Group comprises five schools in Delhi NCR — all respectably ranked in the annual EWISR — with an aggregate enrolment of 7,000 children mentored by 780 teachers.

Jain isn’t the only education leader to give credit to teachers for keeping their school’s flag flying during the unprecedented 60-week Covid pandemic lockdown of all education institutions countrywide — the longest of any country worldwide. Meera Isaacs, dean of the vintage Cathedral & John Connon School, Mumbai whose alumni include industry leader Ratan Tata and acclaimed writer Salman Rushdie, also credits the school’s teachers for restoring CJCS to its “rightful position” as Maharashtra’s most admired co-ed day school.

Meera Isaacs: rightful position

“The national lockdown of all schools countrywide was declared on March 13, 2020, a Thursday. Working furiously with our IT support team of six professionals advised by TataEdge over the weekend, our teachers began online classes on Monday. Since then, we have become a fully wired school delivering contemporary hybrid education to our 1,917 students mentored by 186 teachers. The dedication of our eager-to-upgrade teachers, our proactive students and supportive parents are the prime factors behind the high scores that CJCS has received under all parameters in your latest survey,” says Isaacs, an alumna of Mumbai and Pune universities who during her four decades-plus career in CJCS was appointed principal of this highly reputed school in 1996.

Suchitra Academy’s Praveen Raju: mind, body, soul education commitment

Down south, former ICT (information communication technologies) entrepreneur Praveen Raju (co-promoter, Elansoft, Indus International School-Hyderabad, Indus Early Years) and promoter of the K-12 CBSE and Cambridge International (UK)- affiliated Suchitra Academy, Hyderabad (SA, estb.2010), sited on a green 4.2-acre campus, is also “honoured, humbled and delighted” that well-informed EW sample respondents have promoted SA from a modest #27 in 2020-21 to #15 this year nationally and #4 in Telangana (pop.40 million). “The highly credible annual EWISR surveys are strong motivation for institutional improvement and conducting SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threat) analyses. They serve a very useful nation building purpose,” says Raju.

Raju unequivocally attributes the great leap forward of SA in public esteem to the school management’s commitment to holistic “mind, body and soul” education that it delivers to its 1,600 students, including 736 girl children mentored by 150 intensively trained teachers.

“In SA, we firmly believe that developing these three intelligences of children is equally important. In academics, we accord great emphasis to projects-based and ESL (emotional and social learning), and sports to ensure our children’s physical fitness and love of life,” adds Raju. Proof of his commitment to sports education is the Suchitra Badminton Academy sited (SBA) on the SA campus equipped with seven state-of-the-art courts, on which 17 highly-qualified coaches mentor 140 children. And it’s no small achievement that India’s darling, twotime Olympic medalist and world badminton champion 2019, P.V. Sindhu trains at SBA.

Other schools in the Top 20 table which have risen in the public esteem in the pandemic year are The Heritage School, Kolkata which retains its #12 national rank and #1 in West Bengal (pop.90 million); Gitanjali, Hyderabad promoted to #13 (cf. 19 in 2020-21), DPS, Bengaluru East #14 (19), Silver Oaks International, Hyderabad #15 (19).

Let us now check out a recent trend about how willing parents are to send their wards to physical classes:

Further down the 1,928-strong league table of India’s most admired co-ed day schools, the Chettinad Hari Shree Vidyalayam, Chennai ranked #23 (47) and #5 in Chennai; Bombay Scottish, Mumbai #25 (49); Birla Open Minds Academy, Hyderabad #26 (30); Children’s Academy, Malad, Mumbai #27 (53) and Montfort Senior Secondary School, Delhi #30 (39) have received substantial promotions in the national and more importantly, city rankings which are more relevant for day schools.

CHSV’s principal Jasmine Nizar

CHSV’s principal Jasmine Nizar: speedy online switch

“We are very happy to learn that our low-profile school which was ranked #228 in 2018-19 and #47 last year has been included among India’s Top 25 and Tamil Nadu #5 in 2021- 22. I attribute our big promotion to our director Mrs. Geetha Muthiah’s dedication to providing safe, caring, culturally-rooted and joyful education to our children. Apart from this, the speed and commitment with which our teachers switched to online platforms, digital tools and pedagogies during the past 18 months of the pandemic to provide effective and meaningful online teaching-learning has won us our good reputation,” says Jasmine Nizar, a physics, computer application and education postgrad of Madurai Kamaraj University and former teacher at the TVS Lakshmi School, Madurai (2004-11). Since 2011, she has risen in the ranks and was appointed principal early this year. Currently, this CISCE-affiliated school has 1,470 children mentored by 131 teachers.

An important caveat for readers and all stakeholders in K-12 education to note, is that especially for day schools, national and state rankings are of little relevance and at best confer bragging rights. For the self-evident reason that parents are highly unlikely to move home and hearth from cities where they work to enable their progeny to attend nationally top-ranked day schools. For them, city and often civic ward rankings are of greater import.

DCM, Ambala Cantt students: Ambala

Although the annual EWISR which rates the country’s 3,000 best schools to acknowledge and encourage them to rise to highest global standards — already the world’s largest school rankings survey — don’t go down to the micro-level, with close study and application, parents and students can shortlist, if not select, the most geographically convenient and aptitudinally suitable schools for their children. It’s for this reason that the cover story layout for day schools features city before state and national rankings.

In this connection, please note that the Eklavya School, Ahmedabad ranked #19 nationally, is routinely ranked #1 in the textiles city of Ahmedabad. Likewise, City Montessori, Gomti Nagar at #33 is regularly ranked #1 in Lucknow and in Uttar Pradesh (pop.215 million).

A survey on students’ learning loss as reported by teachers:

 

Impact of the pandemic on teachers 

Also Read: EW Co-ed Day Schools Rankings 2020-21

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