From 10 to 9,400 students
IHS surges ahead

DUBAI — When late Hemkala Behn started offering private tuitions from her home in Dubai in 1957, little did she know that her classes would go on to become part of the first Indian private school in the UAE.


Muaz Shabandri

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Published: Tue 14 Dec 2010, 2:40 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:07 AM

Celebrating its 50 years, the Indian High School’s journey from a small villa in Bur Dubai to one of the largest private schools in the UAE is of remarkable pride for the Indian community in the UAE.

“It all started when late Hemkala Behn asked me why there were no schools for the families of Indian children who were coming to Dubai,” says 86-year-old Maghanmal Pancholia founder-chairman of the School.

Working on the idea of a school for the families of Indian expatriates, Maghanmal Pancholia decided to rent a villa for Hemkala Behn so that she could continue taking classes for the growing number of students.

“During those days, a lot of Indian families were coming to Dubai and there was no formal school for the children. That’s when we decided to build a school for these students,” says Maghanmal who was the chairman of the Indian Association at that time.

With 10 students and one teacher, the small classroom became the heart of ‘Bharat Vidyalaya’ or The Indian Primary School. At Rs5 per month, the fee was kept affordable to all so that students could attend these classes. In August 1968, the school shifted from the villa to a rented building near Dubai Museum. Vasu Shroff, the first honorary teacher at the school fondly recalls the first few years spent at the school.

“I used to come and teach art and physical education to the students. It was a small batch and I used to enjoy being a part of the school,” says Vasu, who today heads Regal Traders as its chairman.

Formally creating a school charter in 1975, the school moved to Oud Mehta in a 350,000 square feet plot, where the campus is situated till date.

“It’s been a long journey and even today our focus has been to maintain high-standards of education,” says Mohan Valrani, Hon Chairman of the Indian High School.

From 10 students, the school has today grown into a full-fledged campus with over 9,400 students.

“Every year we receive over 2,500 applications for our kindergarten programme and we have to turn down most of them as we can accommodate only 500 new students every year,” adds Mohan.

Unable to meet the demand, the school trust decided to build a new campus in Dubai Silicon Oasis. Expected to open in April 2011, the purpose-built facility will have room for 3,000 additional students.

“The bigger challenge is to maintain the quality while keeping education affordable for the parents,” says Ashok Kumar CEO, Indian High School.

Investing over Dh80 million in the new campus, the school will have an indoor sports complex, a business school and laboratories.

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