How do you choose from the many school boards in India?

lead image

What's this whole dispute over the best school boards in India? Is your choice of board indicative of your status or is there more to it? Read on

How do you choose from the many school boards in India?

school boards in India

Why is choosing the right board of education such a big deal?

We were looking for a school for our daughter when a random search on the Internet took me to websites that screamed how one board of education is better than the other and how a certain board is the choice of parents who want their children to become doctors. So, I wasn’t shocked, but I sure was a bit shaken.

As if the rigmarole of filling up the application forms, attending interviews and the stress caused by the anxious wait for the final admission list wasn’t enough, now I had to pre-determine if I wanted my 3-footer to be a doctor or a singer?

And then, pitches in my neighbour, “Since my daughter will be opting for medicine after her Class XII, I’ll be sending her to a school that follows the CBSE curriculum.” He was talking about his 2-year-old who had just started saying full sentences that made half sense. NOW I was shocked. Either I belong to the stone age where children went to school to learn, make friends, have fun, and in the interim also perhaps decide what they wanted to become once they grew up.

If this is the current state of education in India, then how are parents to decide which board works the best or is most suited for their child? Will the child’s school board decide if he is to become a painter or an astronaut? How different are the curriculums of these boards anyway?

Inundated with questions? So was I and here I’ve tried to break it down for you after much research, interviews and conversations with names relevant in the field of education.

Analysis of the popular school boards in India

school boards in India

School boards in India | CBSE

• Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)
The main objective is to adopt innovative teaching methods, inculcate general knowledge with the subjects typically required to build the basics. The board includes relevant and substantial content that prepares children for various skill sets. There is more weightage on math and science and is preferred as an ideal board for students who are interested in pursuing engineering and medical studies.


school boards in India

School boards in India | ICSE

• Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE)
In the ICSE syllabus, a lot of importance is given to projects on which a student’s performance is judged. Unlike the CBSE, the ICSE syllabus is vast and comprehensive. Emphasis is laid on the overall development of the child with a focus to impart practical knowledge of all the subjects that are being taught.


school boards in India

School boards in India | SSC

• Secondary School Certificate (SSC)
The syllabus is usually considered to be limited when compared to other boards. Regional languages have a prominent place in the syllabus. However, over a period of time, the curriculum has been going through an overhaul to cater to the new developments and requirements in the field of educational.

Continue reading to find out different educators’ perspectives on school boards in India

school boards in India

School boards in India | IB

• International Baccalaureate (IB)
The teaching methodology is practical and application-based and has a broader subject line that leads to the overall development of the child. The focus of IB examinations are to test the knowledge of the child rather than speed and memory. Undoubtedly, it is way more expensive than the other three boards being discussed here.

So is there a ‘right’ board of education?

Perhaps it’s not just the board that you choose, but other factors like the teaching methodology, parents’ involvement, child’s interest level and grasping capacity that matter. Echoing these sentiments, Rethi A. Nair, principal, SICES High School, Thane, says, “While we follow the government prescribed syllabus, I feel it’s not just the board that defines the future of your child. Parents need to understand the importance of education and actually spare time to sit with their children on a daily basis so that the young ones too fathom its importance.”

Another point that Nair throws light on is that CBSE, ICSE and IB schools are usually opted by the more affluent parents. “These parents can afford to send their children to such boards and spend on further coaching classes. Whereas, children who attend the SSC board may not come from affluent families. At the risk of sounding judgmental, these parents are usually more concerned about dealing with the daily chores to have enough time to pay attention to their child.”

Is having one uniform board of education the solution?

Another interesting angle to this whole debate between choosing the ‘right’ board is to pop up this question: Why don’t we have a standard system of education across India?

“There should be one uniform board across the country, one evaluation format and one marking system. The existing divergence creates a disparity in the level of students from different boards appearing for the CATs, IIT-JEEs and the medical entrance exams,” voices Gowri Ishvaran, ex-founding principal, Sanskriti School, Delhi.

“In fact, in Tamil Nadu, most children attend CBSE board till their 10th grade and then shift to the local state board because of the lenient marking system, which helps in getting into a good university,” adds Ishvaran.

Further to that, Ishvaran feels the disparity in the content of each boards is unfair in more ways than one. For a parent from a rural town, the only option is to send his child to the local state board school. So does that mean his child should be restricted to dream beyond a certain choice of further education?

“Basically, choosing between CBSE, SSC, IB and ICSE doesn’t really matter as 99.99% of children who want to become doctors or engineers take outside coaching. So the school curriculum ceases to play a critical role these days,” adds Ishvaran.

Unless these entrance exams come in alignment with a particular board, there will be anomalies without a doubt. The solution is to have a uniform board and then get these entrance exams in alignment with that one board for a better evaluation of talent.

Sandhya Sabulal, a Mumbai-based teacher and mother to a 2o-year-old son, feels it is the school that matters and not the board that it follows. Her son followed the SSC board all through his schooling, and with some external coaching, bagged a seat in one of the top engineering colleges of Mumbai. “I still recall visiting at least 7-8 schools in the vicinity before narrowing down on this one and I have no regrets. I feel my son is as smart if not smarter than his peers who attended the CBSE, ICSE or IB board schools,” she says.

Perhaps what Ajit Karkare has to say will help the confused lot of parents. Karkare, founder-principal, Gurukul The Day School, Kalyan, says, “I feel the sole criteria of choosing a form of education should be based on the pattern of learning incorporated by the school, and not the board. All the boards’ syllabi are based on the child’s stages of development. So till the 8th standard, all boards teach the same syllabus with slight variations. An ideal school should be interactive, exploring the world around the child for it. Now rarely do schools go for this pattern irrespective of the board they follow.”

Do let us know your thoughts on this article on choosing from the various school boards in India, in the Comment box below.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Google+ to stay up-to-date on the latest from

Written by

Divya Nair

app info
get app banner