Mumbai's Old Schools Get New Curricula to Attract Students

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India), September 28, 2017 | Go to article overview

Mumbai's Old Schools Get New Curricula to Attract Students


Mumbai, Sept. 28 -- Times are changing, and so are the old state board schools in the city.

Fearing getting overshadowed by new schools, most are setting up divisions offering national and international curricula.

Two schools to follow suit are St Stanislaus School and St Joseph Convent School at Hill Road in Bandra, which are among the oldest schools in the city. Both were founded in 1863 as orphanages and are run as government-aided English-medium schools that follow the state board curriculum.

While St Stanislaus School, which is a boys-only school, is run by Fathers and Brothers of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), a Roman Catholic congregation known for their educational work; St Joseph School, a girls-only school, is run by Daughters of the Cross, another Catholic congregation. Both are affiliated to the Archdiocese Board of Education (ABE) in Mumbai, which manages more than 100 schools.

Last year, both the schools started to offer International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) curriculum to Class 8 students in combined classes for boys and girls in new schools. This year, the schools have extended the facility to Class 9, opening admissions to students from other schools if they clear the entrance test.

Lisette Fernandes, administrator at St Joseph's Convent International School, said the international schools were established with the intention of offering an alternative to state board schools within the institution. "For the past few years, many Catholic students are shifting to other non-convent institutes. As a result, the board decided to introduce the international curriculum in select schools of the city," she said.

The schools had several reasons for choosing IGCSE over other educational boards. For one, the Daughters of the Cross already have the experience of running an international school affiliated to the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) school in 1980s. The school was closed in the late 1980s, as the religious order running the school felt only privileged students were benefiting from the school due to its high fees.

The schools decided against adopting a CBSE curriculum because they believe it is too similar to the state board curriculum. While the ICSE curriculum fulfilled the schools' requirement, they found it difficult to compete with the already established ICSE schools in the city.

Another organisation that has introduced a new curriculum is Parle Tilak Vidyalaya Association (PTVA), which runs several schools and colleges in Vile Parle, Andheri and Mulund. When Lokmanya Tilak died in 1920, a group of prominent residents of Vile Parle came together and decided to continue the work of the freedom fighter.

In 1921, they started PTVA's Marathi Medium School, which soon became the flag-bearer of the distinctive Maharashtrian culture of Mumbai's Vile Parle suburb. The association's English medium school started in 1982. In 2008, the management started an ICSE school.

The management said the new school seeks to fulfil the requirements of an upwardly mobile population. "People from the area now have higher aspirations and even want to go abroad. Such schools help them fulfill their dreams," said Anil Ganu, president, PTVA, adding within six years, the school has got such good response that they now run in two shifts. …

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