IB, IGCSE, ICSE or CBSE? Are You Asking the Right Questions Before You Choose One?

Are you a mom of a preschooler? If you are then, you will be taking one of the biggest decisions of your life come September. Most schools in Mumbai begin their admission process by September and your mind, we are sure, must be filled with questions about which school to pick vs. which board you should choose for your child.

Moms at Kidsstoppress were/are in the same boat. So we feel your pain. Here are a few things which will definitely clear the clouds from your mind and make choosing a whole lot easier.

Golden Rule: Pick a school that is right for your child. Always keep the child at the centre of your decision.

5 Important Points to Consider Before You Pick up Forms:

1. School vs Board:  It is important to know if you want your child to study in a particular school or a particular curriculum. Make your decision before you pick up the form.

2. Details About Board or School: If you are picking a curriculum, do your research about what each curriculum offers vis-a-vis the other one. If you are picking a school do your research about what boards the schools offers. Some schools offer a number of boards on the same campus.

3. Education Budget: How much is your family willing to spend per semester on education? Each curriculum comes with its own price tag which will cover fees/tuition/books/private coaching fees. Do not look at the cost only for the present year. Consider what you will be spending ten years down the line.

4. Aspirations for your Child: This is an important point to consider. Even though our children will grow up with aspirations of their own we need to be prepared to be able to provide what we imagine for them. Do you see a purely academic pursuit or an emphasis on sports? Questions like these will help you make your decision.

5. Distance: A lot of schools only take in students if they live in a particular area. Please consider this when you make your choice of school/board. It becomes very tedious for a child travelling long distances to school and back daily.

Now that you are a step closer to making your decision, let us address the elephant in the room. What is the difference between the various boards? How does a CBSE differ from an IGCSE? Or an ICSE from an IB?

CBSE (Central Board for Secondary Education)

Why go for it:

  1. If your work at a job which moves you every few years, your children might find it difficult to cope with new boards everywhere you go. CBSE was designed keeping these families in mind. A large number of schools in India and abroad follow the CBSE board which will ensure your child joins a new school without having to adjust to a new curriculum.
  2. CBSE prepares a child to qualify for entrance exams to various technical institutions. So if you see your child walking towards a career in engineering or medicine, CBSE will pave the road for them with its strong focus on maths and science 
  3. Standardized and easily available textbooks.

Council of Indian School Certificate Examination (ISCE) i.e  ICSE (Indian Certificate for Secondary Education)

Why go for it:

  1. Want your child to be extremely proficient in English? Then ICSE with its focus on both English Literature and English grammar will definitely allow enough opportunity for your child to practice the language away from home. This could be helpful while your child attempts exams like GRE or TOEFL.
  2. ICSE also allows children an opportunity to choose from a variety of vocational subjects such as home science, agriculture, computers, cookery, fashion designing etc. which could not just open doors to a future career but unearth hidden talents in your child.
  3. Curriculum considered by many to be more vast and tougher than CBSE.

 IB (International Baccalaureate) 

Why go for it:

  • The Geneva imported IB programme has three main modules -  Primary Year Program (PYP K.G - 5th), Middle Year Program (MYP Std 6- 10) and finally IB diploma (Std 11-12). Exam for IB diploma is conducted at the end of Class 12. IB programme is extremely challenging and requires an inordinate amount of work by the student.
  • The focus of the IB programme is very international in nature and parents who need to relocate internationally for work find this curriculum helpful for their children as it is familiar to adapt.
  • Though this board does focus on all round development allowing students to choose from a variety of subjects it clashes with the requirements of undergraduate programmes in India. It is a myth that most people that choose this curriculum aim to send their children abroad for higher studies. It focuses on critical thinking and analytical skills, qualities valued by all international universities.

IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education)

Why go for it:

  • IGCSE qualification exam is conducted after class 10 by CIE Cambridge International Examinations and it's a 2 yr program covering class 9 and class 10. With its focus on international curriculum it is usually a precursor to the IB diploma programme.
  • The curriculum focuses largely on application based learning and is ideal for those students who do not wish to join the stressful rigmarole of marks and ranks in higher classes.
  • The curriculum pushes the child to think beyond the obvious and uses manipulative aides that make learning a lot more fun.
  • Ideal for parents who relocate internationally as it also prepares children for entrances to foreign universities.

Facts you need to know

  1.  India has seen a tenfold increase in IB schools in the last ten years. From 11 in 2003, to a 107 in 2013!
  2. Maharashtra ranks the highest with both IB and CIE (IGCSE) schools! While there may be many schools with the international tag, it is extremely important for parents to see their certification or a proof of affiliation to some board before enrolling their child.

At KSP we feel there is no set formula that works while choosing a school. You need to decide what works and what doesn't for your family before you hop on any particular bandwagon. After all your child will be spending a lot of time at school for the next few years and there are things to consider beyond the curriculum. For example teaching techniques adapted by the school to make learning more engaging, good quality of teachers and staff,  a healthy teacher-child ratio, focus on extra-curricular activities, proximity to  your house, hygiene and security standards fare all important points to consider while choosing a school.

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