A decade ago, when foreign families settled in Delhi, they invariably sent their children to one of the various embassy-administered schools, such as the American Embassy School or the British School. These were the accepted norm for the sons and daughters of diplomats, businessmen and media personnel. Now, with more and more foreigners arriving in Delhi every year due to the city’s rapid economic expansion, the families are looking towards Indian schools.
Jyoti Bose, principal of Springdales School in Dhaula Kuan, says as many as 43 overseas students will be attending her school by this September. Tagore International School in Vasant Vihar has students from 18 countries studying there.
“The syllabus is really tough, more difficult than what is taught back home. I think foreign students don’t perform as well as their In dian counterparts,” said Ibrahim Rebhi, a class IX student of Tagore International who has come from Egypt.
For most of these students, making friends is very important. This transition is easier, according to Edna Juisse from Mozambique, who is in the same class as Ibrahim. “They (the Indian students) are not forthcoming initially, but after some time start taking interest in you and ask you a lot of questions about your country.”
Mutale Nyirenda, 14, of Tagore International, who is from Zambia, says, “People told me this was one of the best schools in Delhi, so we opted for it. Since we are living in India, we should learn about its culture, and the best way to do that is by going to an Indian school.”
Other schools in and around Delhi, such as G D Goenka World School, Modern School and Delhi Public School International also accept foreign students.
At both Springdales and Tagore International, school administrations have found ways to incorporate foreign students’ culture into their curriculum. Every February, Springdales holds an international children’s festival where students can see demonstrations of the culture of their foreign schoolmates. At Tagore International, on national holidays of a particular country principal Madhulika Sen announces the event over the public address system mentioning the students who belong to that country.
The Indian students studying are impressed by the foreigners. Tania Dua of Tagore International said: “They are very open-minded and freethinking.” “But they have a bit of an accent,” she added.
Her classmate, Kartik Chadha, however, said: “They are just the same as us.” The impression of foreign students of Indian origin is a little different. Kanav Batra, an Australian citizen, said: “The Indian students are less concerned about girlfriends and boyfriends. They tend to concentrate more on their studies.”