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Pre-school education now goes global

Our Bureau

"While we have global universities and programmes in higher education in India, till now primary education has been largely home grown. In our centres, we will teach young people by the Montessori method and also have teacher training institutions where teachers will become skilled to teach the Montessori way.''

NEW DELHI, April 10

FIRST it was higher education that attracted investments, then came the `International' schools, now it's the turn of pre-school education to turn global.

The Rs 600-crore Ravi Jaipuria Group announced a joint venture partnership with Modern Montessori International (MMI) Singapore, to open pre-school educational institutions across the country.

Forming a new entity, Modern Montessori International (MMI) India in which the Ravi Jaipuria Group will have 51 per cent equity stake, the company announced a Rs 200-crore investment in the Indian operations in the next five years.

MMI India plans to open four schools by April 2004 and as many as 14 schools by 2005. The company will be opening its first school in Gurgaon on Friday. In the next year, it will be targeting Delhi for opening schools. The long-term agenda includes starting 20 schools each year with an investment of Rs 5 crore in each school.

Recalling the philosophy and work of the famous Dr Maria Montessori who developed this unique system of education many years ago, Ravi Jaipuria who is also associated with two branches of Delhi Public School - in Gurgaon and Jaipur - detailed the company's future plans.

He said: "While we have global universities and programmes in higher education in India, till now primary education has been largely home grown. In our centres, we will teach young people by the Montessori method and also have teacher training institutions where teachers will become skilled to teach the Montessori way. A teacher training facility will be attached to every school. By 2005, we also hope to have a franchisee system in place.''

Modern Montessori International (MMI), the parent company, is London-based and runs around 40 schools globally. With a customised curriculum for pre-schoolers and certificate and diploma courses for teachers, apart from the UK, the MMI group has a presence in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.

It is also in the process of making forays into China. Tuition fees in India will be between Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,000 per month.

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