Should I choose an Indian Board for my child, or an International Board?

international board

With so many choices of educational boards, the burning question, these days, is which educational board is right for our children?

In the last few years, two international boards, Switzerland-based, International Baccalaureate (IB) and UK-based, Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) have gained more and more acceptance amongst the Indian parents. There are now about 500 schools offering an international curriculum in India.

The syllabi of all boards, Indian or International, are more or less similar but the delivery and pedagogy differ significantly.

The international boards promote an investigation-based, application-oriented, hands-on style of learning, wherein the students develop critical thinking and research skills over the 12 years of schooling. With a well laid-out project-based learning system, these boards challenge students constantly, keeping their curiosity and inquiry alive.

The focus is not on the amount of knowledge gained, but on how to gather the knowledge and how to apply it. Use of calculators is allowed so that the time spent is less on calculation and more on application. Depending on the school, the students have no end-of-the-year examinations, and learning is relatively stress-free with continuous evaluations in every subject.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) also tries to promote social responsibility by a mandatory community service component in the curriculum for higher classes. This type of delivery is possible because the international boards restrict the student-teacher ratio in the class.

The benefits of this method of delivery are immense, but only if the quality of the teachers is high. If the delivery by the teachers and the school is not on par then the students may suffer. Further, dependence on calculators for arithmetic calculations and less focus on memorization of theory could result in lower development of memory skills.

With the Indian boards, the information conveyed to the students is immense; though the applicability of that information in real-life situations is not always discussed with the students. With the student-teacher ratio being much higher, the focus of student evaluation is not as much on classwork and project-work, but on year-end examinations. The Indian system tends to encourage memorization skills but not much effort is put into developing critical thinking skills.

Though the popular belief is that the International boards are for students who aspire to go abroad for their undergraduate education, more and more students who graduate from these boards are deciding to stay in India. The CIE board is offering early exams in March so that the results are out before the admissions process starts with the Indian colleges. The IB board gives predictive scores, which more and more top colleges in India are accepting. After graduating from International boards, many students are opting for the BA, BCom, BSc, BMS, and other similar courses at top Indian colleges. For courses like medicine or engineering in India, the IB board is currently not recommended. The timing of the entrance exams for these courses overlaps with the final IB examination. The IB board is accommodative and can adjust the exam timings for these students, so that they can take the entrance exams as well as the IB exam, however, this is very onerous on the students.

Some students choose to take a gap year after 12th standard to study for these entrance exams. The students who take A Levels (12th standard for the CIE board) complete their exams in December and have a few months to study for the medical and engineering entrance exams. In general, the international curriculum is not geared towards the medical and engineering entrance exams, which puts the students at a disadvantage when competing with students studying with the Indian boards.

Generally with Indian boards, students are forced to pick a subject stream (Science, Commerce, Arts) after 10th standard, though some schools do give the students some flexibility with subject choice. With the International boards, the students can pick a mix of subjects in the 11th and 12th standard and do not have to pick a subject stream, which gives them more flexibility to explore their interests. For example, a student could take Chemistry and Economics together or Biology and Psychology together.

With the International boards gaining more and more acceptance with Indian parents and colleges, there are new developments with respect to these boards every year. Watch this space as ZenParent keeps you updated!

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