When it comes to picking the right education path for your child, it is as confusing and important as choosing the right investment portfolio for the future. India offers a myriad of options in terms of education boards and each has their own set of advantages and disadvantages. For the parent, it is of utmost importance to comprehend fully what each board offers, measure the abilities and interests of the child, and then make an informed decision.
And to make this task slightly less worrisome, here is an all you need ready reference to the differences between the two main boards in India – CBSE and IB.
About the boards
- Stands for the Central Board of Secondary Education and falls under the Union Government of India.
- Formed in 1962 by the NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training), it remains the most popular board in India with more than 9000 public and private schools following it.
- The board is known for its quality education and conducts yearly exams including the “All India Senior School Certificate Examination” (AISSEC) for the 10th and 12th standards, the AIEEE for various engineering and architecture colleges across India and the AIPMT (All India Pre Medical Test) for admissions to major medical colleges in the country.
- Stands for the International Baccalaureate and was founded in 1968 by the International Education Foundation, headquartered in Geneva.
- It has been adopted by almost 146 countries around the world and is divided into three stages. The first being the PYP (Primary Years Programme extending from kindergarten to class 5). The second being MYP (Middle Years Programme extending from class 6 to class 10). And the third being the DP (Diploma Programme covering classes 11 and 12).
- It is known for a holistic approach and variety of subjects offered in the course.
- Nationally recognized by private and public schools and universities across India.
- Internationally recognized by all institutions of higher studies (Except Cambridge and medicine courses in some international universities).
- Nationally recognized by private schools affiliated to IB. Recognized by the “Association of Indian Universities” as an entry qualification to all universities.
- Internationally recognized by all institutions of higher studies (Except Cambridge).
Note: Admissions for universities situated in the USA are based on SAT scores. Students of both Boards stand an equal chance, depending on their SAT scores.
The Educational Approach
- The main focus of the board is on the subjects of math and sciences, with emphasis on application of knowledge.
- The approach is more theoretical and promotes an intellectual spirit amongst the students. The examinations are designed to test both memory and speed.
- The syllabus is highly structured and controlled with prescribed books and portions to be covered.
- All national entrance examinations are conducted according to the syllabus of CBSE.
- After the 10th grade, students have to choose “streams” (Science, Arts & Commerce) composed of similar subjects, rather than individual subjects.
- The main focus of the board is on intercultural awareness and developing communication skills. Humanities subjects are given as much importance as science and math.
- The approach is more practical and promotes analytical skills amongst the students. There are no examinations till the MYP. The students are however kept busy with regular quizzes and assignments to test their knowledge.
- The syllabus is relatively flexible, with students having the freedom to choose books. The emphasis is on exploration and questioning the world.
- Students of IB have a slight advantage in SAT, GRE and similar exams due to their course and style of study.
- At the 10th grade, students choose a variety of subjects and are not constrained to a single “Stream”. Three other courses are compulsory, namely Theory of Knowledge, Creativity Action & Service, and Extended Essay.
- After 10th, the students can choose Science, Commerce or Humanities.
- The science stream offers -
- For the medical group: English, Biology, Physics, Chemistry and one optional subject.
- For the non medical group: English, Math, Physics, Chemistry and one optional subject.
- The commerce streams offers English, Accountancy, Business Studies, Economics, Management Studies and one optional subject.
- The humanities stream offers English, Political Science/Psychology, History/Economics, Geography/Math/Home Science/Sociology/Hindi/Sanskrit etc and one optional subject.
- The usual optional subjects are Physical Education, Fine Arts, Music and Vocal studies etc.
IB students choose one subject from each of the following six 'Subject Groups': -
- Group 1: First Language (English)
- Group 2: Second Language (French, Hindi, etc).
- Group 3: Individuals and Societies (History, Economics, Business and Management, etc).
- Group 4: Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Environmental Systems).
- Group 5: Mathematics and Computer Science.
- Group 6: Electives (either Visual Arts or a second subject from Groups 3, 4 or 5).
In addition, all DP students must study a two-year course called Theory of Knowledge (TOK); work to produce an Extended Essay (EE); and engage in Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS).
CBSE and IB curricula differ in the history, recognition, educational approach as well as the subjects offered. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. But these key differences can help each parent channelise their thoughts productively towards making the right choice for their child.