Expert View

Choosing the Right Education Board for your Child

Every parent wants the best for their child and providing one’s child with the best education tops the list. There are many factors, parents consider when it comes to choosing a school for their child and one of the main factors is the board to which the school is affiliated. Choosing the education board that is right for the child can help nurture them at a young age and play a pivotal role in their career and personality development.

Evolution of Boards

It is important to understand that education is for nation building. Hence, every nation designs its education system (and relevant boards) accordingly.

For example, post India’s independence, there was strong need and demand for physical infrastructure, space, roads, steel plants, mines, bridges, dams, etc. So engineering and technology education was the focus. IITs and NITs were created. CBSE was introduced with focus on STEM education to prepare students for the nation’s future.

Choosing the right education board

When it comes to making the right choice, knowledge and information is essential. In order to choose the board that is relevant for a child, we must first understand what each board offers and how well their curriculum and teaching methodology align with the life and career goals of the child. Here’s an overview of the different boards that are followed by Schools in India and the focus areas of their curriculum.

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)

CBSE is one the most common national level boards in India today and it follows the NCERT. It is adopted in many private and public schools – more than 24000 schools are affiliated to CBSE in India. When it was founded in Ajmer, it’s primary aim was to enable students smoothly transition between various states. It has grown thick and fast through the years. One of the main advantages of CBSE is that many important exams for higher studies in India are connected to the CBSE syllabus. The emphasis is on core subjects like science, maths, social studies and languages. The curriculum has a strong theoretical approach and the whole idea behind this is to help students gain sound knowledge in these different concepts on core subjects in order to help them attempt professional courses and entrance exams in the streams of science and maths. It is a very good curriculum for students keen on taking up STEM related careers.

If the goal is to pursue professional degrees such as medicine or engineering, the CBSE curriculum is a good choice.

ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education)

The ICSE curriculum focuses on the basics and foundations of concepts. It aims to create successful learners who enjoy learning and encourages understanding and application of knowledge to real-life experiences. Besides focusing on concepts in maths and science, ICSE also offers an equal weightage to languages, arts and humanities. This allows for a more balanced, wholesome and holistic education. ICSE schools use English as the medium of education and focus on strengthening language skills. SUPW and community service is a compulsory graded subject. Students are encouraged to pursue community service and develop a sense of responsibility towards the community.

The holistic curriculum, focus on English and other languages, mandatory community service, and the encouragement to pursue extra-curricular activities helps build impressive profiles for students applying to colleges and universities abroad. A good base in English language also gives ICSE students an edge over others in language exams like TOEFL and IELTS.

State Boards

The Ministry of Education permits each state to design and develop their own syllabus and also conducts a standard examination. The state syllabus is followed in the government-run schools and also in some private schools. The State Board syllabus is different in every state and is designed for the specific state to teach students about their region and state. The focus is on regional/local language, history (along with national and world history), and culture of the state. With an in-depth localised approach, the State Board equips students with deep knowledge and understanding of their region besides the country and the world.

For students with an interest in pursuing public exams like the Civil Services Examination, Engineering Service Examinations and National Defence Academy & Naval Academy Examination among others, state boards are the best starting point.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The International Baccalaureate (IB) programme is designed to develop “inquiring, knowledgeable, confident, and caring young people”. Apart from the subjects taught, the programme focusses on three major requirements – CAS (Creativity Action and Service), TOK (Theory of Knowledge) and the extended essay. How do you know what you know – is the focal point in IB curriculum. The IB curriculum motivates students  and helps students develop critical thinking and research skills that are crucial for excelling in college and beyond. It equips them with the knowledge and skills to navigate the real-world challenges and propose solutions with an open mind and ingenuity. Research and internships are focal points in the curriculum. They mostly prepare students for universities and jobs beyond the shores of India.

Studying in an IB accredited school can also be a gamechanger when taking admission in college or university abroad. Students with an IB diploma have higher university and college acceptance rates than other applicants and more scholarship opportunities.

Cambridge IGCSE

Cambridge Board curriculum is designed by the Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) and it is recognized worldwide. The highest numbers of schools globally are affiliated to the Cambridge Board. IGCSE has a broad curriculum that is based on the British GCSE curriculum. Schools across the world can modify it to suit regional requirements and learning environments. A wide range of subjects provide students the opportunity to find subject combinations that suit their interests and aptitude. Cambridge IGCSE helps improve performance by developing skills in creative thinking, enquiry and problem-solving. Research and internships are focal points in the curriculum. The curriculum is created to generate curiosity in students and develop a desire for learning.

As IGCSE is among the most widely accepted qualifications across the world it serves as a launching pad for higher and professional studies. The curriculum prioritises learning languages and cultural studies which creates well-rounded students. This makes for a positive impression when applying for admission to colleges abroad.

Switching Boards

It is also critical for parents to keep a track of their child’s overall performance in a particular board. If a child is facing challenges or wants to try something different that is more in line with their passion, interests and life/ career goals, they can always switch to a different board.

Students can switch in any grade, however grade 8 is seen to be the best time to transition. If an international board like the IB/ Cambridge is your choice, then making the change at the earliest will help the child.

My Final thoughts

Given the pace at which the world is evolving, predicting what the world will look like when our children graduate is tough. Irrespective of the board,  they should be taught to keep an open mind, inquire, and be prepared to take on challenges and come up with real-world practical solutions. To develop well-rounded young individuals who are future-ready, we should focus on holistic education that is immersive, engaging, and excites learners!

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