Education: Competing Against the World
Access and quality of education differ remarkably depending on one's location and socioeconomic status, but enrollment at secondary-school level is improving.
Jessica Miranda, 16
Apostolic Carmel High School
Family: Jessica's father is a marine engineer. Her mother is a full-time mom.
Location: Jessica's school is a 10-minute walk from her home.
Courses: She recently finished 10th grade. Last year, she took three languages: English, Hindi and Marathi, science 1 (physics and chemistry), science 2 (biology and chemistry), history, civics, geography, economics, algebra and geometry.
School day: Jessica takes 10 classes, each running 30 minutes.
Next step: Jessica hopes to start college soon. "I'll have to study for at least another five years then get a degree in journalism. I'd like to go to St. Xavier's.
Impression of Americans: "Honestly, I think the system is better than ours, and the teachers are way more dedicated. However, I think American students don't measure up. They have much more potential than they know, but the system is too easy. Ours is too difficult. Neither is good enough."
Sukhmani Grewal, 15
Apostolic Carmel High School
Location: Sukhmani's school, a private Catholic school that receives government money, is located in the Bandra section of Mumbai. With approximately 13 million people, Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is the most populous city in India. Sukhmani bikes to school each day in about two to three minutes.
Family: Sukhmani's father is a customs officer; her mother stays at home. She has a 20-year-old brother studying electronics engineering.
Courses: Sukhmani took three languages: English, Hindi (the national language of India) and Marathi (regional language), science 1 (physics and chemistry), science 2 (biology and chemistry), history, civics, geography, economics, algebra and (coordinate) geometry.
School week: Monday through Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. and a half-day on Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. and ending around 1:30 p.m. Students get two breaks during the day.
School year: Runs from mid-June until mid-April.
Career goal: Doctor. Sukhmani will attend two years of college and go on to a university to study medicine. "I plan to do my initial studies in India, and then I will go to the U.K. to get my specialization," she says.
Impression of Americans: "American students are considered very dumb here because we do much more than what they do, especially when it comes to math because we are not allowed the use of calculators. We also think that Americans are too much into dating and all that nonsense at a very early age, when they should be focusing on their studies."
Wynrica Gonsalves, 16
Attended St. Joseph's Convent Girl's High School
Location: Wynrica walked to her school.
Courses: While Wynrica recently completed 12th grade, in her 10th-grade year, she studied three languages: English, Hindi and Marathi, history, civics, geography, economics, algebra, geometry, science 1 (chemistry and physics) and science 2 (botany and zoology).
School week: Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and includes seven classes, each lasting about 45 minutes. Students have a 15-minute recess and an hour lunch break.
Homework: "At grade 10 barely any homework is given by the school" and would take at the most an hour or two to complete. Tuition classes in junior college, however, require at least five hours of study each night and 12 hours on the weekend.
Beyond academics: "We have football, hockey and basketball, but participation is voluntary. We are graded for P.E., which is compulsory, but it's not emphasized compared to academics. We have an annual dramatics wherein music and plays are showcased. There are elocution and general knowledge quiz competitions."
Tutor: "I have a tutor; 90% of the students have tutors."