In a state which has earned a global reputation for development through education, Trivandrum International School (TIS) has been promoted as Kerala’s first globally benchmarked international school
Sited on a bright green 15-acre campus on a windswept hilltop on the outskirts of Trivandrum, the eponymous Trivandrum International School (TIS) is Kerala’s first globally benchmarked international school. It was promoted in 2003 by Oman-based George M. Thomas, managing director of the Saif Al Harasi Group of companies with the objective of providing world class primary-cum-secondary education to children of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and the growing number of IT professionals working in the city’s Technopark. TIS offers the syllabuses of the CISCE board and the Cambridge International Examinations board (IGCSE and A-levels) to 182 kindergarten-class IX students from 14 countries including the US, UK, Switzerland, Thailand and Russia.
“Despite Keralites having migrated in large numbers to foreign countries, especially to the Middle East, until TIS admitted its first batch of 72 children in 2003 Thiruvananthapuram (formerly Trivandrum) didn’t offer an upscale boarding school for children of NRIs. Mr. Thomas was acutely aware of the need for a school which would provide academic education of an international standard combined with Indian values. Therefore TIS has been carefully conceptualised with the help of Colombo-based international educationist Elizabeth Moir who has established three international schools in Sri Lanka. And now, two years on, the feedback we have received from parents of students from over 14 countries is very positive,” says G. Vijaya Raghavan, a former IT professional and founder chief executive of Technopark, Trivandrum (1990-97), India’s first technology park, who is the honorary director of TIS.
To supplement the efforts of Moir (executive director and head of the school), Thomas and Vijaya Raghavan mounted a transnational search for a headmaster and signed up the Oxford and Durham educated Richard Hillebrand, whose curriculum vitae recounts two decades of international and domestic (UK) teaching. “As conceptualised, TIS is strongly rooted in the local community, and has a genuine commitment to making a reality of its international status. It is proud of its Indian characteristics, but at the same time it aims to be distinct in the manner in which it offers internationally competitive education to its students,” says Hillebrand who is also designated director of studies (senior school) at TIS.
According to Hillebrand, the school’s academic systems are designed to develop the intellect of students and empower them to become life-long learners with an enduring appetite for knowledge. “Every study programme is designed to develop cognitive growth and the skills of reading, thinking and writing. Familiarity with ICT (information communication technologies) is developed as a core skill from the earliest stage,” he adds.
The distinguishing characteristic of India’s high-end international schools is their remarkably low pupil-teacher ratio which guarantees personal attention and tutoring. TIS is not an exception to this rule. Its 182 students are instructed by a highly qualified faculty of 36 which translates into a comfortable 1:5 teacher-pupil ratio. Moreover, under the school’s British-style tutorial system every student is assigned a personal tutor responsible for his/ her academic and personal development with the administrative stipulation that no tutor will manage more than ten students.
Manageable teacher-pupil ratios and classroom strength (maximum 20), and the tutorial system facilitate special attention to slow learners. The school has constituted a Special Education Needs Team (SENT) to identify specific learning needs of children and to respond quickly to them. Special supplementary learning is provided with the help of materials and equipment acquired from Britain.
Unsurprisingly, the TIS management is committed to the liberal principle that there’s more to education than academics. The school has introduced a host of extra-curricular activities through the promotion of its outward bound, creative and performing arts, drama, literary and sports clubs to transform children into well-rounded personalities. Sports options include football, volleyball, tennis, badminton, swimming and adventure sports (trekking, rock climbing, etc).
“In TIS we are committed to the belief that every child is gifted and it’s our job to help the child identify, explore and nurture this gift. Therefore, music, drama and art are part of the way of life here. We have set ourselves a simple goal: by age 11 every student should have had the opportunity to play a musical instrument, join a sporting activity, perform on stage and make appreciable academic progress,” says Paula Hillebrand head of the student counselling wing of Trivandrum International School.
Though currently the 36 boarders are a small minority, they enjoy excellent residential accommodation and facilities. For Rs.75,000 per year they are provided furnished and comfortable rooms (three per unit) with attached bathrooms offering hot and cold water, and are served by a professionally managed modern kitchen with a consultant nutritionist/ dietician. Day scholars are provided air-conditioned buses and free lunch and snacks.
Two years on and having impacted itself upon the national consciousness as the pioneer international school of India’s most literate state, the TIS management is set to compete for students and reputation with the best progressive schools countrywide. “In the new academic year 2005-06 the first batch from TIS will write the class X ICSE and IGCSE board exams. Our students’ performance in these examinations will provide valuable feedback on the extent to which our academic and extra-curricular programmes are on track. Constantly checking on how we are functioning and fostering continuous faculty development is a priority within TIS,” says Hillebrand.
Quite clearly within a society which has earned a global reputation for development through education, TIS has been promoted in the right place at the right time.
Admission & fees
Admission. The selection process comprises an informal discussion with applicant students and class teachers. In higher classes applicant students are also required to write an admission test.
Tuition fees. All students admitted are required to pay an admission fee (Rs.25,000) and a (refundable) caution deposit (Rs.25,000). In addition variable annual tuition fees are payable (half yearly) as follows: kindergarten: Rs.100,000; classes I-IV: Rs.105,000; classes V-VII: Rs.130,000 and classes VIII-X: Rs.140,000.
Tuition fees include lunch and snacks, all books and special coaches for day scholars.
Residential charges. Rs.75,000 per annum per student
T. K. Devasia (Thiruvananthapuram)