Known as 'the Oxford of the east', Pune is one of India's most prominent education hubs. The city is home to several tertiary education institutions, many of which are popular among international students.
Expats moving to Pune with children will find a decent selection of schools in the city. Most parents opt for one of the city's international schools as these tend to make for a smoother transition into life in India. There are also some good public and private schools in Pune, but families will need to contend with possible cultural and language differences.
It's worth noting that Maharati is a compulsory subject at all schools, including private and international schools. Students needn't be fluent, but at least a basic proficiency is required.
Public schools in Pune
Public schools either follow the curriculum of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) or the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE). The ICSE is considered a more rigorous curriculum, but both are internationally recognised.
There's a high demand for English-medium government schools, and expats will have access to a number of these in Pune. There are also Maharati-, Hindi- and Urdu-medium public schools.
Public schools are usually underfunded with large class sizes and few resources. For this reason, most expats prefer to make use of private or international schools.
Private schools in Pune
Pricier than public schools but equipped with better facilities, private schools in Pune can be a good middle-ground for expat children. They are well attended by locals, providing the opportunity for expat students to experience the culture authentically in an environment that offers better resources and more individual attention.
On the other hand, private schools in Pune are often highly focused on academic results, with a teaching style that tends to forgo critical thinking in favour of learning by rote. This can be at odds with an expat family's own ideas of what constitutes a good education.
International schools in Pune
There's a good selection of international schools in Pune, most of which offer either the Cambridge curriculum (including the IGCSE and A-Levels) or the International Baccalaureate.
Some international schools teach an Indian curriculum, such as CBSE or ICSE, in addition to an international curriculum. Expat parents should be aware that there are a number of schools that position themselves as international schools (for example, by including the word 'international' in their name), but teach only the CBSE or ICSE. So it's best not to make assumptions about a school's offerings based on its name – parents should check school websites thoroughly and ensure they understand what the school offers.
Expats looking for a country-specific curriculum, such as that of France, Germany or the US, may have to look beyond Pune. Cities such as Mumbai and Delhi have a larger range of international schools than Pune, and many offer boarding. If this doesn't suit a particular family, or is too expensive, homeschooling is another option worth considering.
Homeschooling in Pune
Some expat families opt to educate their children at home. This is a good option for expats who want their children to learn the curriculum of a country not represented among Pune's international schools, or for those who wish to avoid their high fees.
Homeschooling isn't widespread in India, and the government takes a hands-off approach. In statements, officials have proclaimed that while they would prefer every child to be in school during the compulsory education period (ages six to 14), they will not interfere with or micromanage those who choose home education. This leaves parents free to homeschool, albeit with few laws and regulations to guide them. We recommend tapping into local homeschooling networks, whether online or in-person, for guidance.
Special-needs education in Pune
While integration is often the prevailing philosophy for managing children with special educational needs in Europe and North America, Pune tends more towards enrolling them into special schools. There are a number of these – public and private – throughout the city.
Some international schools take a more inclusive approach and have well-developed special-needs policies. The conditions covered and the extent to which children can be accommodated vary from school to school, so it's best to consult individual schools directly.
Tutors in Pune
Many expat families find tutors extremely useful in assisting their children to catch up to a new curriculum, work on local language skills, or get to grips with a problem subject. The period leading up to big exams is also a great time to enlist some extra help. Asking teachers and fellow parents for recommendations is a good way to find a tutor, though there are also many tutoring companies to be found online.