Does It Matter What Board My Child Studies In?

Introduction:

The introduction of international curriculums and methods of instruction into the Indian education system, has led to a lot of debate among the general public with regards to what the best school board would be for their children. However, while some boards have certain advantages over others with respect to overseas recognition or the alignment of syllabi with those of competitive college entrance examinations, there is still no real consensus on which board maketh the child. After all, the curriculum for students uptil Grade 5 is fairly similar for most school boards - excluding the international boards - and the differences only really become relevant in the higher grades, upon which more consideration has to be given to the individual capabilities of each child.

Still, for the parent of a young child, this decision remains a crucial one as it not only charts out an educational roadmap for their child, but also a social one. Thus, it is important to understand the different boards available in India, and their various points of comparison. Whilst never being truly indicative of a child’s future ability, choosing a board that suits their particular temperament of learning style will only be of advantage to them.

Educational Boards In India:

There are at present five main categories of educational boards within the country, each with its own unique curriculum and approach :

1. CBSE
2. CISCE
3. IGCSE
4. IB
5. State Boards

Each of these can be compared alongside certain criteria such as recognition/accessibility, instructional methodology, educational materials and the process of evaluation. These parameters may provide a means of ascertaining which board may best suit a child based on their aptitude towards different areas and methods of learning.

Criteria For Comparison:

1. Recognition/Accessibility:

a. CBSE is by far the most widely implemented curriculum across public and private institutions with varying levels of infrastructure and is recognized by the central government as well as institutions and educational bodies overseas. Its NCERT curriculum also acts as the basis for the syllabi of most competitive college entrance examinations across the country, most notably the IIT-JEE and NEET.

b. The ICSE board, while also widely implemented and recognized within and outside the country, is not at par with CBSE in terms of its accessibility to students.

c. IB and IGCSE curriculums are only really available in international schools in large urban centres and these schools are also generally more expensive. However, they are recognized across most colleges within the country as well as abroad.

d. State Board curriculums are locally available within the territory of their origin but vary greatly on moving between regions and are generally recognized nationwide but more selectively overseas.

2. Instructional Methodology:

a. The CBSE syllabus remains skewed towards mathematics and sciences - making it ideal for those interested in pursuing engineering or medicine in India. Whilst it involves a vast array of theoretical concepts, it remains restricted only to that which is written in the text-book, as the board’s focus is more on ensuring successful completion of exams. This only increases as one gets to the higher levels and the national boards come into play.

b. The ICSE syllabus is not too different from CBSE, albeit with more optional subjects in the later years. However, it tends to be more extensive and detailed than CBSE, particularly in the Sciences and places equal emphasis on all subjects in the formative years. Languages and application based learning are given more attention in this board.

c. The IB and IGCSE systems allow for far greater flexibility in picking subjects across streams in order to cater to students’ interests. The boards focus on holistic skill development, community service, intercultural awareness and practical application. There is also far more emphasis on communication skills and writing. Both IB and IGCSE are known for being demanding curriculum, however, they are also the boards most suited for those seeking an international collegiate experience.

d. State Boards vary greatly in their approach and curriculum with some similarities to the CBSE system. However, they often remain slightly restrictive in their educational outlook and teaching methodology.

3. Educational Material:

a. The CBSE and ICSE boards both have standardized lists of material that students are expected to follow and examinations are almost exclusively based on them.

b. IB and IGCSE programs may provide some prescribed textbooks but place more emphasis on encouraging students to explore topics on their own from external sources as well.

c. State Boards prescribe material based on their varying regional curriculums. Thus the material is not as nationally standardized which can lead to significant differences in the quality of education across states.

4. Process Of Evaluation:

a. Assessment under the CBSE program focuses on the ability of students to memorize and recall information and concepts with less attention given to practical applications.

b. ICSE places greater emphasis on application based learning and skill development and aggregates labs and practical assessment into a student’s examination scores.

c. IB and IGCSE curriculums have additional methods of assessment apart from exams that take place year round making it a more arduous and consistent process. These don’t only include practical applications of the coursework, but also extra-curricular achievements and social work.

d. State Boards generally focus on rote learning similar to the CBSE system although this may differ region wise.

Rounding up, there are obvious benefits to each of these educational boards. CBSE’s alignment with national entrance examination syllabi and wide national recognition makes it the most sought after choice for Indian parents. In contrast, the IB and IGCSE programmes possess greater international recognition, and offer more holistic development to the child.

The ICSE system remains a balance of the two extremes, providing a well rounded method of instruction that leaves students with good language skills and opportunities for further studies inside the country as well as abroad. Even State Boards possess advantages of their own due to their relatively lenient evaluation standards as well as the advantage they provide to students applying to colleges within their state of domicile.

This is because a certain number of seats are reserved in these institutions for students under the State Board programs, allowing them to gain admission simply based on their XIIth standard marks.

Conclusion:

In addition to the above revolutions, classroom technology is also poised to evolve by leaps and bounds. By integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI), it will be possible for teachers to collect student-oriented data points and apply relevant algorithms thereon to develop customized learning programs for each child. Application-based learning is also set to be a key element in the classrooms of the future.

And then, there is Augmented Reality (AR), which can make learning more engaging for children, owing to many stimulating sensory inputs that facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of academic concepts. With AR, it’s possible for students to access true-to-life representations of constellations, historical sites, galaxies, sites of geographic significance, and so much more.

Conclusions

The choice of school board may be of vital importance if the child plans on pursuing their higher education abroad, or wishes to give competitive exams in India, but both can be achieved regardless of which board is chosen.

This is because there are two factors that are far more important than the board. The first is the parental outlook and the home environment. If this remains limited, it will have an adverse effect on the child’s capabilities. The second is the school. Regardless of which board your child opts for, one has to make sure that their school is equipped to provide them with holistic development.

This is a factor of the school’s facilities, teachers and it’s areas of focus. Combined with the child’s particular temperament, responsiveness to different teaching stimuli and areas of interest, these are the most important considerations to take into account when choosing your child’s Educational Board.



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Mangesh Sawant

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