Imagine securing a US high school diploma without even stepping out
of your home in India! As India attempts to go international in the
field of education, here is a virtual classroom straight from
The American International Academy, a
US-based online education academy, is offering the diploma - the US
equivalent of a Class 12 certificate - at a time when many Indians
are queuing up for American degrees. Over 100,000 Indian students
went to the US last year for higher studies.
"This diploma will bring Indian students at par with their American
counterparts," J. Donald Williams, chairman of the American
International Academy (AIA), told IANS. Only those who have
completed Class 10 under an Indian board can enroll for this course.
Williams is on a visit to India with Ron Klink, a former member of
the US Congress (1993 to 2001), for taking ahead the virtual school.
"By enrolling in this programme, Indian students will be eligible
for preferential admission in US universities and colleges, at par
with students in the US," Williams said.
The AIA started in 2000 when the closure of steel mills in Midland,
Pennsylvania, forced the local administration to close the schools
there due to fund shortage.
"We could not support the school financially as the revenue from the
steel mills stopped. The children had to go to a school across the
border in another state; that was very embarrassing," says Klink.
"We started to educate them online in Pennsylvania. Gradually, it
expanded to the whole of the US," says Klink, adding there are
nearly 20,000 students enrolled with it in the US.
The academy, which was formally launched in India in March this
year, is now in dialogue with the human resource development
ministry and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to
adapt the curriculum to Indian needs.
"We don't mind changing according to Indian needs; we told CBSE
officials when we met them that we are ready to adapt," says
The course costs $5,700 or nearly Rs.266,800. On passing, students
get a US high school diploma, which is recognised by universities in
the US and India as well, says Abhishek Goyal of CCS Services which
is looking after the India operations of the AIA.
"The Association of Indian Universities recognises high school
diploma by any accredited school in the US and diploma from a school
that teaches on the American pattern - the AIA fulfills the
criteria," says Goyal.
With ties between India and the US growing stronger in a number of
fields, especially education, the AIA team has high hopes. "It is a
pleasure to be here, we are open to adapt to Indian norms," says
Goyal adds, "The degree will be recognised by US colleges and
students will not have to give any additional exams like TOEFL, or
IELTS. In addition, they will get concession in tuition fee in US
However, they accept that it will still need a big effort to break
conventions which are in favour of traditional schooling.
"Even in the US, there is a battle between people who want things to
be traditional; people are reluctant to change. It may take a
similar amount of time in India," Klink says.
"We also have virtual labs and students can interact with the
teachers and their co-students online; this will give them great
exposure and the student can move according to his or her own pace,"
"It will give an equal opportunity to all students; it is not like
having 1,400 students in a school, it is like having 1,400 schools
for each student!" he adds.
(Anjali Ojha can
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)