India's Best schools: Loyola School, Thiruvananthapuram emphasizes academics

Where the emphasis is on academicsThe academic excellence of Loyola School, Thiruvananthapuram, a household name in Kerala, is built on school-student bonding. The school also witnesses a  low attrition rate among the teachers. Read the complete article to know more.

 

Loyola School has a formidable reputation as one of the best quiz teams in the country. Worthy rivals respect the spirit and character that Loyola teams bring to the table along with an abundance of knowledge. The same reverence goes for the school’s academic achievements too. There were 48 distinctions out of 48 last year, and a class average of 92.75 percent. This year, the number was 85 out of 86 and 91.15 percent. National school surveys always place the school among the top educational institutions in the country. The school is named after its patron saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits Society. The name ‘Loyola’ is so loved and respected that local residents changed the name of the road, which runs in front of the school, from Sreekaryam-Akulam Road to Loyola Road.

 

Academic record

“There is an emotional bonding in the school,” says Principal Fr. Devassy Paul. “That brings in a lot of productivity,” he says explaining the school’s record in academic excellence. For a school run by priests (Loyola is owned and managed by Jesuits), there is a lot of freedom on the campus. “From our side, we don’t impose anything. Right from the younger days, the students stand up and speak,” adds the Principal. The school’s success is attributed to a variety of factors. Besides the bonding that encourages productivity, the role of the teachers is integral to Loyola’s success. For one, the teachers take it upon themselves to pore over dozens of textbooks before deciding which is best for their students. “Our teachers have a go-getting attitude,” says Fr. Paul.

 

Good faculty adds to the school’s attraction

A low attrition rate among the teachers is another reason that Loyola’s children emerge the best in the country, based on a student-teacher relationship of trust and discipline. Merl Murray, an English teacher, completed 47 years of service at the school this year. Joseph, a school attendant, refused to retire even after a tenure of 52 years. Abdul Aziz, the gardener, is still going strong after a long 45-year service at the school. “We allow our staff to continue working even after they reach the superannuation stage,” says the Principal. “We can’t match the government-prescribed salaries after retirement, but our teachers are happy to stay back.”

 

Calm environs

Founded in 1961, the Loyola School sits on a seven-acre campus in the middle of towering trees and a calm environment. School veterans remember the rise of the school’s status to the days of Fr. Maurice Stanford, a Canadian Jesuit from its Darjeeling province. Fr. Stanford, who headed the school between 1973 and 1976, is credited with astute leadership that catapulted Loyola to great heights. “Fr. Stanford brought a Western touch and big push to education,” says Fr. Paul, who took over as principal four years ago. Fr. John Manippadam, another revered teacher who was sent out to teach English to students in China, Taiwan, the Philippines and East Timor, has returned to the faculty, strengthening teaching of William Shakespeare in Loyola’s classrooms.

 

You can take us out of Loyola, but you cannot take Loyola out of us

“Our boys love the school,” beams the Principal, who as a medical representative for nine years convinced doctors in Kerala and Karnataka to prescribe his company’s drugs before embracing priesthood and becoming a teacher. “It is difficult to push them out of school. They say, ‘You can take us out of Loyola, but you can’t take Loyola out of us.’” Loyola’s students have gone on to serve and lead the society well. P M Ajayan, an alumnus, is a globally renowned expert in nanotechnology in the United States. National Award-winning filmmaker Santosh Sivan studied here. “The school always allows our students to work at their pace while making sure what we want,” says Fr. Paul. “Our emphasis is on academics.” Until last year, there was only one ICSE batch compared to two CBSE batches. This year, that ratio has been reversed in favour of ICSE.

 

Sports tradition

It is not just quizzing that is a Loyola tradition. The school also has a strong sporting tradition. “Our basketball team is very strong,” says the Principal. Every year, the school hosts a Loyola Cup for the state’s schools. In 2009, the school built a 5,000-capacity indoor stadium. A cricket academy was inaugurated on the campus in 2002.

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