City Montessori School holds the record for being the largest school, boasting around 55,000 pupils across 20 campuses in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Jagdish and Bharti Gandhi founded the school in 1959 from borrowing mere 300 rupees or $3.91 at the current exchange rate. The school only had five students at first and launched its first campus in a rented area. It admitted children age of three upwards, who could follow push through their education until the senior level.
Uttar Pradesh is in a grim need for quality academic institutions. The state is found in the northern part of India has a literacy rate below the country’s national average of 74%. It also ranks 29th among the 35 administrative divisions in India. What is remarkable about the City Montessori School is it does not only excel in size but has proven itself through number awards and recognitions in the past years. In 2002, it earned a UNESCO Prize for Peace Education and became the only school to receive the said award. Its founders also received a ‘Hope for Humanity’ award from Dalai Lama, India’s religious leader.
CMS’s size, however, is dwarfed by the Indira Gandhi National Open University, the world’s largest university also found in India. The Delhi-based school has over four million students, which is ten times the size of its counterpart in the United States, the online University of Phoenix.
Almost all the City Montessori School’s 1,050 classrooms are brimmed with students, generally with 45 students in each class. Nevertheless, parents still send their children to CMS. No wonder, the school’s founders are famous for their remarkable track record. Around 40% of the students from the school score 90% or higher and the classes have an average of 80%, making it one of the top academic institutions in the country.
Teachers are also evaluated to sharpen their competency and ensure that no student is lagging.
CMS awards cash incentives for teachers whose pupils achieve high scores in nationwide exams. Moreover, structures such as transportation, financing, and curriculum creation are centralized for a better experience. And, to strengthen their organizational system, CMS also has ‘sub-principals’ for the primary to senior sections.
Faculty members are also encouraged to be innovative and update their things towards improvisation. Going beyond the ‘chalk and talk’ instructional method, teachers present their lessons using slide projectors. For managing larger classes, teachers have notebook checkers or assistants, that possess Bachelor of Education degrees but don’t hold higher qualifications to serve as teachers. They help in monitoring the students, help with grading, and answer queries during class hours.
CMS also has its so-called ‘teacher guardian program,’ where teachers go to the homes of five students each month and give instant advice to the families of the students. These suggestions could be as simple as recommending that a student’s study table should not be in the same room where the television is, to avoid any distraction. At the end of the day, it is the school’s concern for the students is displayed through this endeavor.
True enough, what began as a small school with an initial five students, has grown massively from its humble beginnings after over 60 years. What CMS has proved of its size is that large campuses and classrooms brimmed with students are not an obstacle to academic excellence.
However, despite its large size, City Montessori School is not an academic institution for the masses. While it is still a quarter cheaper than most elite schools found in the city, fees for each child ranges from 28,000 rupees to 67,000 rupees, as compared to the national capita income of 103,000 rupees.
Nevertheless, the school still sticks to their concern for ethical education, giving a quarter of its students, with low-income family background, a 40% tuition fee reduction.
- City Montessori School (Wikipedia)