India

CBSE vs ICSE – always a good battle!! :)

As most of us from India might be aware, CBSE and ICSE are the two popular education boards in India. While most of us parents are strongly attached to one particular board for any which reason, putting our child into either of the boards is a perennial dilemma for most parents. We choose one board and then after a few years think the other board might have been better and we keep see-sawing on the decision.

However, with my son having completed his Xth grade from the ICSE board and XIIth grade from the CBSE board,  these are a few of my learnings over the years:

  1. When he first started school in India in fourth grade, we had safely forgotten the nitty-gritty details of boards in India(remember – we returned after a long US stint) We saw the first school, liked it and he stayed there, irrespective of the board. It was then we learnt that the school was an ICSE school and learnt the ICSE way of approach.
  2. ICSE syllabus is vast. Writing ‘vast’ in the English language is easy – but understanding the word ‘vast’ and studying the ‘vast’ syllabus in ten subjects is not easy.
  3. There are ten subjects in the ICSE board for grade 10 – yes, TEN!!  They are Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Hist/Civics, Geography, English language, English literature, Computers/PE/or another optional subject, 2nd language.
  4. There will inevitably be 50 chapters in Math, 50 chapters in Physics, 50 chapters in Chemistry and so on for the final board exam!! There have been times when my son has always been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information in Xth grade and has always asked me one simple question “How can I look at all 50 chapters the night before the exam?” The answer of course is quite simple – you cannot look at all the chapters before the exam, you can only look at the weakest ones before the exam. The ICSE exam thus needs a lot of exam hacks and cracks to be successful in it with less stress.
  5. Most parents feel the CBSE board offers less stress – because the subjects are clubbed together(like Physics, Chemistry, Biology as ‘Science’, History/Civics/Geo as ‘Social Studies’) Now, I cannot say for sure whether the CBSE board till Xth grade is less stress or not – but you sure have to study all the science laws and Trignometric formulae to ace life’s academic tests.
  6. In hindsight, XIIth grade CBSE board was a relatively easier and happier experience for my son.
  7. Now, the final irony was that when the grade X and grade XII results for both the boards were released this year, the ICSE/ISC students were awarded full marks or centums in many subjects such as Math, Computer Science, History/Civics/Geo while not many were awarded centums in Math and Sciences in CBSE schools!! ( And I am a sucker for centums! :))

Quite a twist in tale, right? The supposedly easier syllabus had lesser known centums and the grading was harder (atleast from what I have seen around me) and the supposedly harder syllabus had more centums and more students got better marks than they expected!!

I am not sure which syllabus had the last laugh?