16 Feb What makes Schools International?
In our present context, the growth of international schools is largely due to demand and supply and also the growth of the middle and upper middle-class income groups. India, particularly, with its own multicultural setting is attracting students from many of our neighboring countries; hence, many wealthy families, corporate houses and reputed builders are investing their money in building international schools.
So, to understand what makes a school “international” is crucial. A common misconception is that infrastructure and facilities, curricular and co-curricular programmes offered, diversity among the student body and staff, the food served in the cafeteria, the safety systems and the school transport services, make a school “international”. I do believe that all the above aspects raise the operational standards of any school to a high level, but they do not necessarily make a school “international”.
No matter where it is situated, an international school should have a visible culture of openness, acceptance and respect for cultural, linguistic and religious differences. It is must offer and effectively implement internationally bench-marked academic programmes. The school must provide opportunity for non-English speaking students. It must make provision for students who are differently abled. It must have a holistic approach to the Arts and Physical Education. It must provide the opportunity to learn various foreign languages.
It is encouraging that India can be proud of the few genuinely international schools that are dotted here and there; but too often, we find, especially recent International schools, slip back and function like national schools with a rigid and parochial mindset as the leaders of the school are pre-occupied with academic rigor which is primarily rote learning, examinations, hundred percent results and competition. While academic rigor and examination results are important, developing 21st century skills and international- mindedness is perhaps more relevant.
A proper international school is, therefore, one where the celebration of international-mindedness is evident through its academic programmes, the national and international staff it employs and the openness to the discussion of fresh ideas while at the same time demonstrating a genuine respect for the host country’s cultural, religious and political sensitivities.
So we can see that an international school is one that fosters the culture of openness, which respects and celebrates differences and diversity in the school community. SNIS is a school with a difference, where the Management, the Principal, the Staff and Students all believe in, encourage and celebrate diversity and subscribe to international mindedness.
Pradip K Das