Comparing CBSE and ICSE: Choosing the Right Curriculum for Your Child

Parents often grapple with inconsistent questions when it comes to selecting a school and educational board for their child, and this decision can be daunting as it profoundly impacts the child’s academic and personal growth. To address these concerns, we have the privilege of interviewing Mrs. Lalita Ganapathy, an experienced educator who began her career as a kindergarten teacher and later became the principal of a leading school in Bangalore.

Thank you, Mrs. Lalita Ganapathy, for agreeing to share your insights.

Mrs. Lalita Ganapathy, I’d like to commence with a set of common inquiries that parents have presented to me in the past and continue to raise regarding the selection of educational boards and schools for their children. To start, I would like to ask a broad question to understand what a CBSE education offers in terms of a child’s overall development. In other words, why should someone opt for a CBSE curriculum?

Allow me to provide a broader perspective. Regardless of the educational board, the skills a child acquires are of paramount importance. How do we prepare a child to acquire the right skills for the ultimate examination called life? CBSE primarily prepares students for competitive examinations, as it has a structured and theoretical curriculum. It equips those aiming for engineering or medical careers to excel in competitive exams. On the other hand, the ICSE board emphasizes language and practical skills. Even state boards have their own merits, and students do well there too.

In essence, as educators, our collective goal, working with parents and students, is to prepare children for life’s challenges. Post-COVID, it has become evident that we need a diverse set of skills. Having skills beyond a traditional 9-to-5 job is crucial. We need to ensure that children are prepared for the uncertainties of the future.

As you mentioned, selecting a CBSE or state board might be driven by the desire to excel in competitive exams like IIT JEE or NEET, but it goes beyond that.

One of recent interview with Dr. Shanta Susheela, who has 25 years of experience with the ICSE curriculum. She highlighted that the ICSE board offers numerous promising activities for children, including projects and various practical tasks in every subject. On the other hand, CBSE places a strong emphasis on training teachers to implement these activities in the classroom. With the introduction of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, CBSE is aligning more closely with what ICSE schools have been doing. In the future, we might witness all educational boards adopting a similar approach.

Moving forward, the facilitation of learning will become more important than traditional chalk-and-talk methods. How we empower teachers and encourage self-directed learning in students will play a vital role in making our children independent learners.

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Additionally, I have another question that often perplexes me when parents inquire, “Will my child fit into a CBSE curriculum?”

Each child is unique and possesses distinct skills. The key is to harness those skills effectively. There is no need to doubt whether your child can fit into a particular curriculum or not. We weren’t born with labels like SSC, CBSE, or ICSE. Everyone can adapt to any curriculum. The focus should be on how to nurture their individuality.

In some cases, children may wish to return to their previous schools or switch to new ones, which may have more to do with the school’s overall environment than the curriculum itself. The emotional aspect of education, including emotional quotient and mental health, is crucial. Social media plays a significant role in today’s discussions. However, it’s important to remember that your child is unique, and you are responsible for their well-being. It’s advisable to seek solutions privately, consult with therapists or discuss concerns with the school.

Special education and remedial programs are also available to address various needs. Solutions are not one-size-fits-all, but they are attainable through concerted efforts. Always consider your child’s privacy and security, as these are sensitive aspects.

Let me elaborate on your scenario. If a child is in grade seven, perhaps in a state board, and a parent decides to transition them to a CBSE school, I would recommend evaluating the child’s skills and performance. It’s essential to provide thorough counseling to both the child and the parent, as methodologies and language may differ. It’s important to ensure a smooth transition. However, after the eighth standard, the transition to CBSE becomes challenging due to policy requirements. The child’s performance and adaptability are key considerations. Math is not the sole criterion for assessing a child’s skills, and other talents should be considered.

CBSE is continually evolving, and initiatives like NEP 2020 introduce new learning approaches. For parents still considering different curricula, I would emphasize that every child can be molded by supportive environments. Allow your child to grow freely, focusing on their interests and nurturing their skills. It’s not about enrolling them in numerous courses but identifying their passions and letting them flourish. In this generation of the internet and Wi-Fi, it’s vital to understand the unique needs of our children and be there for them without judgment. Your children have incredible potential, and they can achieve remarkable things.


About the Author

Santosh Avvannavar

Santosh Avvannavar Alumnus of NITK, Surathkal & IISc, Bengaluru CEO QtSTEAM I Mentor QtPi Robotics I RJ I Columnist Soft skills Trainer, Author, Counsellor & Consultant Best Seller of 'She: Ekla Cholo Re' TEDx Organiser & 11 time read more...

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