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  • Writer's pictureVaidehi Pant

IB vs CBSE- What Both Boards Have to Offer

This article talks about how International Boards can take control of the education system in India, and how it can impact students and teachers while doing it’s job. It will also compare IB and CBSE (original form of learning in India) and weigh out their pros and cons.

School starts at 8:15. Students fill in from both sides of the building, assembling into their classes. It hasn’t changed at all. One block, five classes, ten teachers, and one simple goal- to learn. However, grade 6 has done it differently. This time, they have six classes and twelve teachers.They’re divided by a thin line into boards, the one thing that will change conversations in school forever, due to its long- lasting sense of pride and jealousy. It’s almost like a competition between the two. IB and CBSE are really outdoing it this year.

But what’s really causing this rift? Is it that IB is, in any way, better than CBSE? Or is CBSE just wanting to prove its governance? Here is some data about International Boards and how it could or could not be beneficial for society.

  • The International Baccalaureate (IB) program founded in 1968, is an international foundation for education that has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • It aims to provide students worldwide with a standardized education model designed to incorporate a wide variety of subjects and activities to enable their students to become inquisitive, knowledgeable and caring citizens. The five categories of skills – thinking skills, research skills, communication skills, social skills and self- management skills, span across all IB programmes. IB also encourages a “hands-on” practical approach to learning with skills that can equip students for life.

  • IB board promotes concept-based learning rather than the typical textbook based learning. Children understand what’s being taught in class and have resources that they may pick from to learn the concepts in-depth.

Here is what students say about IB, their own board-

“I'm a little skeptical about it but I'm learning to trust it. It is similar to what we learnt in the primary years but in the following years, we will go deeper into concepts and I find that quite interesting.”,

says Zoya, a 6th grader (IB) in Shiv Nadar School.

“It is different but I love how inclusive it is and how it helps us to communicate with our peers and learn new things.”

says Radhika, an IB student.

As students share their thoughts, here is what teachers say-

I have just begun my journey of teaching IB MYP. It is a learning journey that allows a teacher to take in depth study of the content wrapped around skills, key concepts and global context.”

says Ms. Arveen, a teacher at Shiv Nadar School, who is currently teaching IB.

As IB is a growing system, there are a few limitations to the same.

  • Not Widespread in India- IB schools/ institutions with IB as an option are usually only found in metropolitan cities and Tier-1 cities of India.

  • Expensive- IB fees usually range in between Rs. 40,000 to 60,000 and may not be affordable for everyone.

Ms. Arveen also shares a limitation that she noticed-

“Awareness is a major key. Parents generally do not have awareness about the IB board as CBSE has been influential in a major way. Also IB is concept based, skill oriented and doesn't have prescribed content. This uncertainty sometimes impacts parents' thinking and they like to go towards something that is tried and tested.”

Now that we’ve covered IB, let’s move on to CBSE, the board which is the most used (and most trusted) in India. Here’s why-

  • The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) was formed in 1962 with the aim of providing students in the country with a high level of quality education designed for securing a good higher education for students within Indian universities. CBSE board syllabus is the one that is followed by a large number of entrance exams for the most prestigious engineering and medical institutes in India.

  • CBSE has a significantly higher number of affiliated schools than any other board in India. Given its large base, it is often preferred by parents who have to relocate every few years. The board allows instruction and teaching in English as well as Hindi, making it accessible to smaller areas of the country where English may not be prevalent.

However, just like IB, CBSE has some limitations as well-

  • Textbook based answering patterns- CBSE is usually based on textbooks, which are used for reading and structural support through classes.

  • Emphasis on rote learning- Students are often encouraged to memorize certain things, which restricts them from thinking about different solutions.

So, which board emerges triumphant from this article? The proud, tried-and-tested, original learning system, or the bold, newly made, practical scheme? Well, the truth is, IB focuses more on practical and application based learning in contrast to CBSE. IB examinations test student’s knowledge & intelligence, not memory and speed; however CBSE examinations focus a lot on memory and speed.

IB pedagogy focuses on ‘how to learn’ rather than ‘what to learn’. IB curriculum focuses more on qualitative assignments in terms of conceptual understanding of the subjects. Because, as Radhika says, “I think it has a great future in schools, as it is a very futuristic way of learning that is really good for us.” Remember, both boards are different, but, still, have only one goal– to learn.

This feature article article has been written by a student journalist as part of the April'23 cohort of the Re-Imagining Media Program.

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1 Comment

Jun 10, 2023

Well-researched and beautifully written....

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