School Boards in India – More Confusion and Less Education



Earlier, it was not when absolutely needed that you looked up for information regarding the various school boards in India. The most popular ones used to be the State boards, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Indian Council of Secondary Education (ICSE). But today, there are many boards to choose from. Let us take a quick look at a few of them.

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)

History: The CBSE was initially instituted in 1921 by the name of UP Board of High School and Intermediate Education, with Central India, Rajputana and Gwalior under its jurisdiction. Later, it expanded to other regions. In 1952, the Board’s constitution was amended, renamed as Central Board of Secondary Examination and efforts were put in to extend it to other regions. In 1962, the Board was reconstituted to serve the educational needs of the students whose parents were employed in Central Government jobs and faced frequent transfers. The Board’s jurisdiction then spread rapidly, even crossing national boundaries. Today, there are about 15,799 schools, which include 1,078 Kendriya Vidyalayas, 11,443 independent schools, 2,482 Government aided schools, 585 Jawahar Novodaya Vidyalayas, 197 schools outside India and 14 Central Tibetan schools.

Objective: The main objective of the CBSE is to adapt innovative teaching methods infused with psychological and pedagogical principles with a view to providing stress-free education to the children.

Syllabus: The CBSE follows a play way method of teaching. The syllabus includes relevant and substantial content that prepares children for various skill sets, it is claimed. There is more emphasis on Maths and Science and is preferred as an apt board for students interested pursuing engineering and medical studies in the colleges.

Examination: It conducts the All India Secondary School Examination for Class X and the All India Senior School Certificate Examination for Class XII and also conducts All India Engineering/ Architecture Entrance Examination (AIEEE) and All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) for admission to premium engineering and medical colleges of India. The board is recognized by the Indian Government and by most of the Indian colleges and universities.

Indian Council of Secondary Education (ICSE )

History: In 1956, it was decided that an Indian Council would be set up to administer the University of Cambridge, Local Examinations Syndicate that existed in India since the British regime. The main motive was to advise the syndicate on the best way to adapt and cater its examination to the requirements of the country. In 1967, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations was registered as a society and in 1973. It was listed as a body conducting public examinations.

Objective: The objective of the ICSE is to provide high quality education to the students through a practical approach.

Syllabus: Unlike the CBSE, the ICSE syllabus is vast and comprehensive. Strong emphasis is laid on the overall development of the child and focus is to impart practical knowledge of all the subjects that the students learn.

Examination: The ICSE conducts two examinations – in Class X and in Class XII. It lays lot of stress on internal assessments and practicals. The council is recognised world over and children who wish to study abroad will do good by adopting the ICSE. It also provides exposure to a number of vocational courses.

State board: State boards are specific to each State and follows separate syllabus and grading methodology. Each State has its own education board that oversees the academic affairs of the schools.

Syllabus: The syllabus is usually considered to be limited when compared to other boards. Regional languages and culture have a prominent place in the syllabus. Over a period of time, the syllabus has been going through an overhaul to cater to the new developments and requirements in the educational arena.

Exams: Exams are conducted in each class. In Class X, the students appear for Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and the Class XII students appear for the Higher Secondary (School) Certificate (HSC) exams.

International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE)

Many schools in India are now getting affiliated to the IGCSE. The IGCSE exams are conducted by the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE). The focus is on preparing the students for life by developing an informed curiosity and a passion for lifelong learning. Their international qualifications are recognized world over. The IGCSE is now being explored by many parents in India, even if education in these schools is considered to be expensive.

Syllabus: The IGCSE offers all the subjects similar to the ICSE and the CBSE. It lays a lot of emphasis on English and students are encouraged to propel their creativity through a variety of writings. Then there is additional focus on foreign language that is intended to help the children in the long run. The teaching is mainly done through practical applications so that the details and information are etched in the students’minds.

Examination: The examinations are conducted at the end of Class X. Cambridge O-level is spread over Classes IX and X. At the end of Class X, the students will be evaluated. This exam is similar to that conducted by the other boards. After this exam, the children can opt either to continue in IGCSE or move on to other boards.

The next examination is conducted at the end of Class XII. The Cambridge A-level exam is spread across Class XI and XII and evaluation is done at the end of class XII – similar to the CBSE and the ICSE. These exams are now recognized by the Indian universities.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

International Baccalaureate was formed in 1968 and is a no-profit educational organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. It offers prime quality programmes for children aged between 3 and 19. The IB schools are considered prestigious, at the same time expensive.

Syllabus: The Primary Years Programme (PYP) is meant for students from Kindergarten to Class V. The Middle Year Programme (MYP) is meant for students from Class VI to Class X and the Diploma Programme is meant for Classes XI and XII.

Teaching methodology: The teaching methodology is practical and application-based and has a broader subject base that leads to the overall development of the child. The focus of IB examinations is to test the knowledge of the child rather than speed and memory. It is at times considered more challenging than the CBSE and the ICSE in terms of the quality of work.

Examination: Till Class X, no exams are held. The students clearing IB exams are assumed to have great study skills, strong work ethics and apt time management skills.



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