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Broad choice of Class X boards
There are various options available for the Class X examinations ranging from SSLC, CBSE, ICSE, NOS and IGCSE to IB.
The present system of education in India offers students various options for their Class X examination. There are state, national and international boards like the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC), Indian Certificate for Secondary Education (ICSE), Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), National Open School (NOS), International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and International Baccalaureate (IB). How do parents and students make out which board is suitable to them?
“It is easy for students aspiring to go abroad for higher studies to choose an international board but those who wish to continue their studies in Indian universities, it’s a difficult choice to make. Almost all Indian boards are more or less similar,” says an educationist. But not all academicians agree with the premise that international boards are good only for a section of students. “The international boards cater as they do to a wider range of abilities. They facilitate admission to Indian as well as foreign institutions of higher learning. Whereas national and state boards limit themselves to needs of Indian students and the exam-oriented approach. The international boards emphasise on thinking and encourage learning for life as opposed to learning for an exam,” says Ms P Benjamin, Principal, Indus International School while adding that one can use traditional Indian syllabi also for long term learning. According to her “text book driven learning is the culprit and our Indian boards rely on it. Moreover, the mess that our text books are in tell their own story. How many schools have the vision to use innovative text books?” she asks. IB emphasises on creative and logical application of knowledge. “It caters to the needs of children with mixed abilities and varied interests. The programme has a huge range of subject offerings. It allows students to choose subjects on the basis of their interest within a specified framework,” says Dr Bindu Hari, Director, The International School of Bangalore (TISB).
The IGCSE, offered by schools like the Mallya Aditi International School in the City, is a two-year study programme – for the 14 to 16 age group – globally recognised as being equivalent in standard to the British GCSE. It is designed to meet teaching and learning needs the world over, and offers a diverse, wide-ranging curriculum.
Coming to Indian boards, the difference perhaps lies in the ‘implementation,’ says Principal, Sri Kumaran’s Children’s Home. Kumaran’s offers ICSE and CBSE to its students. “In ICSE projects on various subjects are an integral part. Also, there’s a clear emphasis on English literature whereas in CBSE, English is functional, communication-based,” she adds.
“Parents in transferable jobs prefer CBSE because of its national curriculum. And Kendriya Vidayalas were established all over India to suit their needs. It is more challenging, offers in-depth views of all subjects and is constantly revised and updated. Students who want to take up competitive exams prefer CBSE,” says a teacher of Kendriya Vidyalaya.
According to another educationist, the ICSE syllabus is more extensive, CBSE is more intensive. CBSE has more objective kind of questions, and prepares students for national competitions. “ICSE is more liberal, gives a choice of subjects. One can opt out of math and science in ICSE, not so in CBSE. The ICSE course develops thinking and analytical skills in a student because it is extensive. From the school point of view, getting recognition for CBSE requires more paper work,” says Ms Benjamin.
ICSE is the offshoot of what earlier used to be Senior Cambridge exam, says Principal Tull Academy for Appropriate Learning Dinah George. “Any curriculum is as good as the other. Facts are the same in any syllabus,” she adds. The CBSE was set up by a special resolution of the Government of India in 1929 with a specific responsibility of raising the standard of secondary education in the country. The NOS was set up for students who may not be able to go to a regular school. “That helps the majority of masses in India, especially the lower economic group. The standard, however is similar to ICSE and CBSE. The difference is that students can study at their own pace with the flexibility in the choice of subjects and the time taken to do it. They get five years time to do their Class X and XII. Well established schools are also introducing the NOS,” explains the academician.
Regarding the state boards, every State has its own syllabus, with emphasis on its regional language and the syllabus is marked out with the names of the books prescribed from Class I to X. This is unlike the CBSE or ICSE, which are examination boards, where the prescribed books are from Class IX upwards.