The best schools in the south
For many Indian parents, selecting a school for their child is among the most significant decisions they will make. Which schools should they apply to?
Then, having jumped through several admission hoops, which one should they finally choose?
These questions bedevil not just newcomers to Mumbai but also parents who have lived here for years because city schools are rapidly transforming.
First, over the past year, Indian policy makers have ushered in radical changes in curricula across boards.
Second, international boards are rapidly making inroads, often charging fees unheard of before but also introducing innovative and wider approaches
to learning and teaching.
Finally, many of today’s generation of highly conscious parents want to be closely involved with their children’s lives at school: they want a lot of information about what goes on at school not only before sending their children there but also afterwards.
Both our survey and the subsequent series of articles capturing key education trends take into account these key shifts in schooling and parenting.
Moreover, this year, we have incorporated into our ranking process several sensible suggestions that readers made last year, when we first conducted
the school survey.
J.B. Petit High School, Fort
Boards: 10th – ICSE; does not have 11th and 12th
Monthly fee: Rs 5,000
Student strength: 950 girls
Student-teacher ratio: 20:1
History: Established in 1860 by a dynamic Englishwoman, J.B. Petit School was originally known as Miss Prescott’s Fort Christian School. City businessman Premchand Roychand contributed Rs 50,000 to the school, on the condition that it be open to all Indian girls, while the then governor of Mumbai, Sir Bartle Frere, donated the land for the school. In 1878, It was renamed the Frere Fletcher School. In 1915, the school ran out of funds and was going to be amalgamated with the nearby Cathedral Girls’ School that catered only to British students. Jehangirji Bomanji Petit, the scion of a philanthropic family, appealed to the high court against the move. The court decided against the amalgamation and Petit provided the financial aid. In 1946, the school was renamed the J.B. Petit High School for Girls after the man who gave it a new lease of life.
Unique features: The school received the International School Award from the British Council for the international dimensions it has fostered in its curriculum. With greater co-ordination among teachers and a blurring of boundaries between subjects, the school has also evolved a cross-disciplinary approach to learning. Students regularly participate in the Seeds of Peace conflict resolution camp in the U.S. every year, which aims to empower young leaders from regions of conflict with the skills for advancing reconciliation and coexistence.
The school has built a reputation for staging quality plays.
ST Mary's High School, Mazgaon
Boards: 10th – ICSE; does not have 11th and 12th
Monthly fee: Rs 1,500
Student strength: 1,500 boys
Student-teacher ratio: 35:1
History: The Jesuits established the school in 1864 with the intent of educating the masses. At that time, education was only available to the English or Indians who were connected to the British Empire. The Jesuits started a chain of St. Mary’s schools in Mumbai, of which the Mazgaon ICSE branch became the flagship.
Unique features: The school has one of the largest campuses in Mumbai and definitely the largest in south Mumbai. This has enabled the school to build very good facilities, such as a sports ground, an auditorium of international standards and two indoor gymnasiums.
The school values extra-curricular activities, especially sports. It is also involved in several social service projects, including one with Gyanmata Adivasi School, where the boys interact with tribal children and go on an annual visit to their village. St. Mary’s has a good track record with the ICSE board examinations, consistently featuring in the merit list. St. Mary’s has several well-known alumni, such as Azim Premji, Zubin Mehta and Homi K. Bhabha.
ST Xavier's Boy's Academy,Marine Lines
Board: 10th – SSC; does not have 11th and 12th
Monthly fee: Rs 2,200
Student strength: 940 boys
Student-teacher ratio: 25:1
History: In the mid-1950s, Father Sologran, a Jesuit priest, convinced the local police authorities to move their proposed police station at Marine Lines elsewhere. He wanted to build a school on the land instead. Independently, the St Xavier’s Teacher Training College that had already been formed had to
have a school attached to it. So in 1957, a school and college were established on the same premises.
Unique features: Education at the school is modelled on the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm, a paradigm rooted in selfreflection as the basis of schooling. Inter-house dramatics, elocution, sports, quizzes and an annual science exhibition are the mainstay of the school’s extra-curricular calendar. They also run a unique four-day exchange programme with a tribal school in Nashik district for students of class nine every year. Students from Xavier’s visit the Nashik students and later in the year host the same students. The aim is to give city children a perspective on rural life. The school has a mentoring programme, in which every teacher is assigned a set of students. Teachers are supposed to be in touch with students and talk to them, referring them to a school counsellor if they feel there is a need. The school offers the newly launched Jesuit Certificate Programme, an optional programme through which students earn credits. It aims to supplement the regular curriculum.
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