Comparing Indian Schools

Yesterday Manju Ma’am, our principal at DPS-North, took us to a few schools in the city of Bangalore. It was really cool to see the different schools and the way they differ from one another. The first two schools we went to were run by the central government of India and the last was run by a trust.

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JNV Campus

The first school we went to is called Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV). We arrived at JNV and saw a beautiful campus that seemed remote compared to most places we have seen in the city of Bangalore. It was peaceful and quiet and we were greeted by one of their students with a flower.

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Flower from JNV

After having tea with the principal we learned that JNV is run by the central government of India. Their goal is to bring quality education to the rural children living in villages around the state of Karnataka. The school requires children to take an entrance exam to attend, so only the gifted ones in the rural areas are accepted. Their school starts in grade 6 and goes on to grade 12. In India school works a little bit differently, high school consists of 9th and 10th grade and 11th and 12th are considered junior college. So students have the option to leave school after 10th grade and start working, or take a difficult test to continue onto 11th and 12th. Most that enter JNV in the 6th grade do not know English so they begin learning once they are accepted into the school. We were given a tour of the quaint campus and then had tea with the principal and his wife. The food was lovely and afterwards the cook showed us the kitchen, the pots used to cook were almost equivalent to the size of bathtubs. In regards to food, the school provides three meals a day, education, and dorms on campus for all the students to live in. So not one cent comes from the parents or children. It was amazing to see such a well run and successful school with 99.3% of students moving onto University after graduation, that is funded completely by the government. It is evident that India takes education very seriously. America—take notes please. As we were touring campus we walked into a smaller version of a lecture hall at Mizzou and introduced ourselves to a 12th standard statistics class. Manju Ma’am told us we were talking to the smartest 12th standard students in the city—just a little intimidating. After our tour we left having learned a lot and we were on our way to the next school.

We arrived at Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) a little bit after 11. Their system is similar to those of JNV’s as it is run/funded by the central government of India. Differing from JNV, KV has grades 1-12 and the students do not live on campus. The school caters to children from the rural populations as well as those with parents in government jobs who travel frequently. There are a lot of KV schools all over the country of India so it is convenient for those who move so that their children can follow the same curriculum as their last KV school.

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Students at KV

On the way, Manju Ma’am told us that she and her brother attended KV schools because her father was in the armed forces. She attended 10 different schools in her 12 years of schooling. That seemed difficult to us, but she told us she loved it because it was always a new adventure. We had another tour and again had coffee with the principal. (Our caffeine intake was at an all time high this morning). On our tour we visited with a 12th standard class and answered questions about the college application process and traveling to the US for schooling. Many were interested in the idea of coming to the states. Afterward, we talked to the headmistress of the primary block and a few of the teachers as well. It was a very enjoyable visit and we had a lot of new information.

The last school we visited was called Parikrama, and this one was truly my favorite. Unlike the first two, Parikrama is funded by a trust to pay for the student’s education, food, and healthcare. The school only takes students in the worst situations; they have social workers that do extensive research to take those who are most in need. Students at Parikrama come from the slums of India, orphanages, and villages. There are four Parikrama schools in the city of Bangalore and one with junior college (11th and 12th.)

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Students at Parikrama

When we walked in we saw kids playing kabbadi, an Indian game of tag, much more aggressive, but that is the best way to describe it. They were running around shouting and having a great time. We talked to the principal about their goals as a school and then took a tour of the classrooms. The principal told us that the mothers and fathers of some of the students are employed at the school as cooks or bus drivers. It is so cool that they employ the parents in need so that they can receive a steady income. As we were taking our tour we went into an upper-kindergarten classroom where the students had just learned English. These kids were absolutely adorable trying to pronounce our names and singing us songs. We had such a wonderful time at this school and I really felt a connection there. As I was walking out I turned and looked at the school; I knew I would be back.

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Chalkboard at Parikrama

Namaste,

Sarah

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