Muscat: More than 2,000 students face uncertainty over whether they will get admission in a school of their choice, as the Indian School board has received more than 5,000 applications for fewer than 3,000 seats this year.
According to Wilson George, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Indian Schools in Oman, although the deadline is still a week away, more than 5,000 applications have already come in. The new academic year is due to start by April this year.
“This year we were expecting fewer applicants than last year. However, since a couple of private schools have been shut and the CBSE withdrew the CBSE-I, we have now received more applications than last year.
“We have received more than 5,000 applications for around 3,000 seats. Clearly, we have a big gap and (there is) still a week to go. Last year, by the deadline, we had received 4,500 (applications).”
As per the website of the Indian Schools, the Indian School Al Wadi Al Kabir (ISWK) has 925 seats available, the highest among all schools. The Indian School Darsait (ISD) followed with 560 seats, the Indian School Muscat (ISM) with 445 seats, the Indian School Seeb (ISS) 391 seats and the Indian School Al Maabela (ISAM) with 385 seats. The Indian School Al Ghubra (ISG) has 140 seats, the lowest among these schools, to fit in the new applicants. Together, these schools account for 2,846 available seats.
George termed it a “challenging situation,” but added, “We are already working on it.”
“The CBSE circular withdrawing the CBSE-I has added some pressure, so CBSE-I students now have to come back to the normal curriculum.”
“In 2015, too, we had a similar situation and had managed by adding more sections. Eventually, we were able to offer every student a seat, though not necessarily in the shift they wanted or the school they asked for, but we were (nevertheless) able to give them a seat.”
He added that until now, the board has no plans to extend the afternoon shift to higher classes to accommodate the large number of applications.
“We haven’t thought about extending afternoon shifts so far and need to basically look at all the possibilities. In higher classes, the requirement is more but we will try our best not to start afternoon shift for them.”
The board has been able to increase the capacity at some schools, and this will help with the class sizes. “We were able to increase the capacity in some of the city schools. Last year,the ISS came up with some additional classrooms and the ISAM got an additional block. The ISWK also came up with some increased capacity. As for the ISM, we cannot increase or enhance the capacity anymore because it already has more than 9,000 students. At the ISG, we have taken a villa to start KG1 classes. The ISS is putting in place certain infrastructure to be able to accommodate more students.”
According to George, the class size at the Indian School Muscat varies between 38 and 48. However,a majority of classes have between 40 and 45 students, and although this can’t be helped immediately, the upcoming school in Al Ansab is expected ease some pressure off the ISM.
“At the ISM, you will findsome issue with the class sizes but in other schools, we have a better situation.”
George added that the board is looking forward to some new schools in the pipeline. The most anticipated among these is the one in Al Ansab, which will make the situation easier for ISM.
“The Al Ansab School will be functional in another one and a half year to two years’ time. It will accommodate 4,000 students, thus easing the situation at the ISM. We are seriously considering (to set up new) schools at Barka and Saham.
Positive response to safe transport system
George said the safe transport system at the Indian Schools, which was kicked off in January, has received a good response from parents and more requests have been pouring in from different locations for phase 2 which will be launched in April with more buses.
“We are receiving a good response from parents and are adding more and more students to this system. A number of parents are waiting, and by April, we will have more buses. Many parents have come to us with requests. We started the first phase with four locations but this number will be increased.”
Appeal to parents
“My appeal to the parents who have not applied for the new academic year yet is,‘please apply.’There is only one more week to go. We will have difficulty in giving seats to all those who have applied so far and parents shouldn’t take it lightly and must apply before the deadline so that we can try our best. This is so because after the deadline, we will not be able to take in any new students.”
Parents are advised to apply online atindianschoolsoman.com by February 15. Online registration and acceptance of application forms in schools will be closed at 2 pm that day.