The education system in India

India offers a growing range of schooling opportunities for globally mobile families. The rapid expansion of its international-school sector, however, brings with it some potential drawbacks.

International school children in India

RBK Academy, Mumbai

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India has one of the most complex education systems in the world. With over 1.5 million schools, between them teaching more than 220 million students, it is also one of the largest.Much has improved in recent years in the education of India’s children and young adults, but the country still has a long way to go before many relocating families would be likely to consider using its state education.

Growing numbers of international-school groups

Fortunately, many international-school groups have taken up residence in India’s major cities over the years, and many more are seeking to establish new campuses, providing relocating families with plenty of options.“The Indian school system is one of the largest and most complex in the world,” says Rob Lynes, former director of the British Council in India. “The complexity of the system stems from India’s need to maintain standards and uniformity while giving scope for its diverse culture and heritage to grow and flourish across the length and breadth of the country.School search and education advice - connect with our in-country experts“After independence, India has worked hard to provide access to almost all its young people, but it has only just begun to focus on aspects of quality and seeking to improve learning outcomes.”

Education for everyone in India

In 2010, India’s Right to Education Act came into force, giving all children between the ages of six and 14 access to free, compulsory education in a local school.In its five-year plan covering 2012–2017, the Indian government committed to improving the quality of its education provision. According to the British Council, there are currently steep dropout rates at secondary level, particularly among disadvantaged groups, and the teacher-to-pupil ratio is extremely low, resulting in “weak learning outcomes”.Ownership of schools is split between the government and private institutions, which receive a government grant. The rest are privately owned, privately run schools, usually teaching an international curriculum.
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Extending the options – IB programmes in India

The global expansion of international-school groups has meant that India now has more than 520 English-medium international schools, including 81 in Mumbai and 76 in Bangalore.Like many international schools in India, Pathways World School, a group of three schools located in Gurgaon and Noida, in the Delhi National Capital Region, teaches the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. The IB has proved itself to be the big success story in secondary education over the past 30 years, and it is now recognised as an entrance qualification to universities in more than 140 countries worldwide.The fact that the IB is accessible to students from any country, and from different educational backgrounds, makes it a popular choice for families relocating to India and concerned about the transferability of their children’s education.“While the national curricula remain the root of all countries globally,” says Dr Sarvesh Naidu, executive director of Pathways Schools, “schools are now preparing to offer a more diverse and flexible range of education that matches the aspirations of students and shapes them to face the evolving global environment and remain connected with technology advancement, frequent mobility, and varied cultural and social norms.”

English National Curriculum

Alongside the IB, many international schools in India offer learning systems from the English National Curriculum, assessed by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) and Edexcel UK, to the American programme.However, there has been concern among established international schools that some providers are taking advantage of the boom by setting up institutions using the international label when, in fact, they are not following an accredited curriculum.Families relocating to the region should check the accreditation of their school of choice through established schools groups and accreditation associations, such as the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), the Council of International Schools (COIS), and the Council of British International Schools (COBIS). 
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