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More expat students join Indian schools

School life has been good for 17-year-old Chilean Gabriela Verdugo since she moved to India three months ago. Snehal Rebello finds out.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2008 02:58 IST
Snehal Rebello

School life has been good for Gabriela Verdugo since she moved to India three months ago. Not only can the 17-year-old Chilean learn English, she can also choose the subjects that she wants to study.

Having lived most of her life in Chile, Verdugo joined Delhi-based Pathways World School after her father got posted at the Chilean embassy. She moved to the International Baccalaureate (IB) Organisation School and is enjoying every bit of it. “The IB system is very flexible. I can study the subjects I want. Besides, there are many foreign students who are fun to interact with because of their experiences and perspectives.”

Verdugo is part of an increasing number of foreign students studying on Indian shores, thanks to a booming economy, an increasing number of multinational companies setting shop in India and a rise in the number of consulates with their bases in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Bangalore.

According to Nasscom, there are about 30,000 to 50,000 foreign nationals working in India at present.

Consequently, schools offering IB education and International General Certificate of Secondary Education — both globally recognised qualifications — are witnessing a swell in head count.

At American School of Bombay, expatriate students have jumped from 450 in the last academic year to 710 this year. “Economic growth certainly has an impact. Companies and governments cannot afford not having a presence in Mumbai,” said Paul Fochtman, school superintendent.

Principal Michael Thompson of Pune’s Mercedes Benz International School attributed increase in students to the school’s proximity to Talegaon, a growing hub of international companies like General Motors and Volkswagen.

And it is not just expatriates who are opting for an Indian education. For the last four years, Kiantokht Sanil-Dardashti, an Iranian, been studying at Bangalore’s Indus International School. “I came here mainly for the English education since I would need it for my higher studies. Iran does not offer English as the first language. Besides, the culture here is similar to Iran,” said the 16-year-old in Grade 10.

The school has 150 more students this year, with a total now of 400. Curriculum coordinator Joseph David said: “The increase is also because Bangalore is the information technology hub with many multinational firms.”

Alka Verma, head of communications for Pathways, said that the standard of Indian education, reflected though Indians studying in foreign universities, is also a factor in attracting expatriates. This year, the school has 150 students, up from 70 last year.