Boarding in India
Total cost of Indian boarding school per year Dhs 49, 765
(Based on year 12 at Bishop Cotton School)
Many boarding schools in India date back to the colonial era, and, for these British inspired institutions little has changed since their inception. Boasting spectacular historic buildings, hundred plus acre estates, and breath-taking hill-station locations, they proudly (and staunchly) maintain their heritage.
That said however, there are also many new schools appearing, offering an alternative more modern education option for India’s expanding elite.
Indian boarding schools have very mixed reviews. While the academics and outstanding grades might be recognised worldwide, the endemic bullying and old-fashioned staffing is well documented and not always popular with today’s parents or students. Be that as it may, for many families, obtaining a place in one of the big-name ‘richy-rich’ schools comes with not only best bragging rights a parent can claim, but also an exceedingly bright future for the child in question.
So, what am I paying for?
While Indian families whose children attend respected Indian schools here in the UAE will no doubt gain certain access to the subcontinent’s influential families also residing here, attending a top boarding school in India opens up contact with something much larger- the Indian global elite.
At the big-names expect not only the best academic minds of each generation, but the off-spring of the ultra-elite, from both India and around the world. Not only do children attending these schools achieve outstanding academic success, but an address book resembling the who’s who of the world’s third largest economy.
Top schools see only the very brightest battle it out for each student place. Children in Indian boarding schools live in a hot-house culture of academic achievement and success. Most schools promote firm discipline, self –reliance and push children early on to study independently and learn to allocate their time. With 24 hour access to mentors, prefects, house staff and tutors, and small class sizes, they’re ‘hot-housed’ for certain success.
India studies have consistently shown children in boarding schools watch less television and enjoy more extra-curricular sports, learning to participate, become team-players and take risks.
Additional costs to consider
Interviews for all Indian schools are held in cities throughout India, although not overseas. Should your application be accepted, you and your child will be required to attend.
Flight to Delhi: AED 1,200
Accommodation, meals, transport etc: 2,000 AED
Total $67 (246 AED)
Flights from the UAE to India are cheap and plentiful. Emirate Airline flies daily to Delhi and flights cost between Dhs500 and 2,500
Average flight price: 1,200 x 3 = 3,600 AED
Overseas Student Fees (Bishop Cotton School)
Registration Fee: $ 250 (918 AED)
Admission Fee and Infrastructure Fee: $ 1500 (5,500 AED)
Terminal bills (Bishop Cotton School)
Expenses incurred by the student during the term, like extra books and stationery, Quarter Master stores, outfitters, special medical expenses, sports items, picnic, school leave parties, hobbies, internet, special courses of computer, programmes, seminars, workshops, memberships etc. averages $500-1000 per year.
Total: $750 (6,427 AED)
Caution Money - (Bishop Cotton School)
$1,300 refunded when student leaves final year of school: 4,775 AED
Imprest (Bishop Cotton School)
Petty cash: R 30,000 per year (1,775 AED)
Uniforms (Bishop Cotton School)
$600 per year (2,200 AED)
Students opting for the IGCSE or IB curricula typically make a one-off payment to cover additional resources, boarding expenses during school vacations and tuition fees.
$1,000 (3,672 AED)
Indian boarding schools to consider
Rishi Valley School
Where: Andhra Pradesh, India
Boarding: Grade 3 +
Fees: approximately Rs150,000 (8,874 AED)
Academics: Not Available
Rishi Valley School was created 80 years ago by philosopher J. Krishnamurti as his vision of the ideal education. Regarded as one of the leading residential schools in India its strong emphasis on ecology, conservation and environmental improvement make the school truly unique.
What they say: “Rishi Valley School provides a distinctive educational environment that enables young persons to grow not only in intellectual capacities, but also in other dimensions of their being.”
Bishop Cotton School
Where: Himachal Pradesh, India
What: Boys School
Boarding: Grade 3 +
Fees: approximately Rs 145,000 (8,578 AED)
Academics: Own curriculum and CISCE
The oldest school in India and most likely, the whole of Asia, Bishop Cotton is consistently ranked among the best in India with exam pass rate of 100%. Equipped with every conceivable facility a young man could need, including house tutors for every hostel, basketball and tennis courts, photography club, nature club, and special training programs for rock climbing and mountaineering, it remains top of many families’ wish-lists.
What they say: “Bishop Cotton School strives to achieve and maintain the highest standard of excellence in its programme of total education empowering men rooted in India’s heritage to live as committed and good human beings contributing positively to the country.”
Sarala Birla Academy
What: Boys School
Boarding: Grade 5 +
Fees: Approximately Rs400,000 (23,364 AED)
Academics: ICSE, IGCSE, ISC & IB
CBA is based on an ICT based learning system. The campus features sports facilities, swimming pool, gymnasium, and an 18-bed hospital.
What they say: “You are most welcome to register your son any time after his birth.”
Case Study: Boarding in India, at St Joseph’s College
A Q and A with Conrad Egbert, former student in the UAE and India, and now a journalist working in Dubai
What was boarding school in India like?
I would love to be simple here and say something like fabulous or fantastic, but each time I pick a word it fails to communicate those years in its entirety.
How did it differ from going to school in the UAE?
Firstly I’d like to point out that there are no boarding schools in the UAE and comparing day schools to boarding schools is pretty much like comparing chalk to cheese. However, I will attempt to do so...
So I went to three schools here in the UAE for no more than a couple of years at a time (between 1984 and 1997) and I guess it was due to the lack of educational standards that my parents decided to ship me off for a “better education”. The reason why I mentioned the range of years earlier is because I am quite sure education in the UAE has come a long way since then, but back then it was basic although I still wouldn't compare schools here with any boarding schools in India. Different ball game altogether.
I went to three schools here – Modern High School, Our Own English High School and The Indian High School. All schools had very limited facilities whether it was a library, science laboratories, computer labs, sports facilities, dramatics, proper inter-school competitions etc. On every scale these schools were literally stop gap for something better. Apart from this, the actual teachers teaching us were (I’d say) thin on real experience.
In comparison, I went to a 150 year old private boarding school called St Joseph’s College (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Joseph's_College,_Nainital) in a little hill-town in the foothills of the Himalayas (still almost 7000 ft. above sea level) where we had every facility available to us and real air to breathe.
I’d like to call our teachers educationalists, because they would do more than just teach us our courses and leave. They were on duty 24/7. We lived with them, grew up with them and learnt from them.
They were superbly qualified and dedicated to the education. You can’t even compare teachers from here to these people. They were different. They lived with their families on campus, slept on campus and worked on campus. Their lives were devoted to our education. We didn’t just study our course material. We actually learnt manners and etiquette, to never talk with our hands in our pockets, to greet on entering a room – small things that separate the boys from the men. We were being groomed while being educated.
On the facilities side of things, we had 3 study halls, 6 Football fields, 4 tennis courts, 2 squash courts, 1 auditorium, stables with privately owned horses, a boat house on the lake (yes private property of the school) with boats, a chapel, a swimming pool, a gymnasium, a library, separate junior, middle and senior schools, forest land (no kidding here) a canteen, a dining hall, separate physics, chemistry and biology labs, a computer lab, an infirmary staff quarters, servants quarters and the boarding which included regular boarding stuff like dorms, locker rooms and shower rooms etc.
All our instructors were qualified and specialised. For example our Physical Training Instructor was a real national level gymnast and not a computer nerd filling in a gap with some football practice. We had every sport you can think of including baseball and rowing competitions on the lake, marathons, mountaineering etc. Games were compulsory; we had them every evening after school from 3.30pm to 5.30pm and then study from 6pm to 8pm after which was dinner. Discipline was impeccable.
Our music teacher was a London Royal School of Music PHD who could play about 10 instruments professionally. We had free and compulsory music lessons where we could choose from the Piano, guitar, violin, saxophone and many other instruments. Every year we had a grand Opera production comparable on an international scale.
If you are aware of the costs, was it significantly more expensive for your family - or pretty comparable...
It was expensive, but if you compare what you don’t get here for the dirham to what you get there for however many rupees, you won’t think twice about the costs.
How do you think going to boarding school in India differs from say the UK, or more traditional boarding school countries?
I can’t really answer that question because I haven’t really been to any boarding schools in the UK except on campus at Oxford (which is University really) and to be honest I don’t see much of a difference other than maybe the culture. (FYI the boarding school I went to was Irish and Italian influenced, so even culture wasn’t really much of a difference here.)
Where did your peers come from? Local, or from around the world?
Mixed bag. Since the school was run by Christian missionaries, it also had a percentage of local day scholars from the town, but the bulk of students were made up of NRI kids, the children of politicians, international students from different parts of the world including royalty. The current crown prince of Bhutan was my classmate and is still a good friend.
Would you recommend boarding school in India to others? Yes, No, Yes with caveats (which are..?)
Absolutely. However, you have to be a brave parent to send your kid to boarding school because your child will most likely become fiercely independent and with a distinct personality of his/her own.