The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) was set up as the 'Board of High School and Intermediate Education, Rajputana' in 1929 under the then Government of India and included schools in Ajmer, Merwara, Central India and Gwalior. In 1962, this board was re-constituted to more effectively impart education, and cater for the children of employees of the central government who had transferrable jobs.
Since then, the Board has expanded rapidly, and as of today, there are 19,090 schools affiliated to the CBSE board throughout India, of which 580 are in Tamil Nadu. Apart from India, at least 25 foreign countries also have schools affiliated to the CBSE board. This goes to show that unlike most other boards of education, CBSE enjoys wide recognition, both within India and abroad as well.
Girish E Principal, PSG Public School, Coimbatore, voices the fact that parents, a few years ago, felt that other syllabi were too easy for their wards. Consequently, this led to a huge exodus of students from other boards to CBSE in 2010 and 2011. To keep up with this change, many private schools like PSG Public School switched to CBSE board.
Now, let us look at various features of the CBSE system of education which contribute to its rising popularity.
1. Up-to-date syllabus
An up-to-date and well-structured syllabus addressing the educational needs of the present and future is the greatest strength of the CBSE board. It has an in-depth treatment. Another strength of the syllabus is that it is cumulative in nature, thereby helping revise the previous year’s lessons by default. It also focusses on long-term memory. And, the yearly revision of the syllabus ensures that the students are abreast with the latest trends in education.
2. Standardised examination and evaluation parameters
Until recently, the CBSE board used to conduct summative, formative and annual assessments to measure the progress of students. The students were then awarded grades based on the results of these assessments. But, from 2017 onwards, the Board has decided to implement the uniform system of assessment to standardise the evaluation process across the country. As a part of this reform, the Board has also issued a template for report cards. This step will help in raising the standard of education to a uniform level throughout the country. Also, the award of marks has been introduced in place of the earlier grading system. This is to ensure students have a concrete idea of where they stand.
Under the new system announced by the Board for class X, the assessment has been split into two parts: 80 marks for the board examination and 20 marks for internal assessment, which will be conducted and awarded by the school. The internal assessment comprises periodic tests (10 marks), notebook submission (5 marks) and subject enrichment activity (5 marks).
3. Comprehensive question paper and marking criteria
Care is taken to ensure that questions in the exams cover the entire syllabus. Therefore, it is mandatory that the students study the chapters thoroughly. Non-textual questions, which are often application-oriented, are also asked, requiring the students to read books other than their textbooks. Also, questions that are inferential and evaluative in nature, and those which test higher order thinking skills are included. Such type of questioning restricts the amount of rote learning to the bare minimum.
It is commonly believed that it is difficult to score high marks in exams conducted by the CBSE board. But, that’s not entirely true. Unlike other boards, CBSE does not award marks for lengthy answers, but awards marks for answering to the point.
4. Ensuring success in competitive entrance exams
One notable strength of the CBSE syllabus is that it prepares students well to face entrance exams for professional courses and other competitive exams. In fact, Uma Gopalakrishnan, an educational consultant based in Chennai, explains the bourgeoning of CBSE schools as being the result of preparing students to clear for entrance into professional courses. Also, most competitive exams like IIT-JEE (Indian Institute of Technology – Joint Entrance Examination), UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) and NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) for medical courses are based on the CBSE syllabus. So, students of the CBSE board tend to fare better in these exams than students of other boards.
5. Reviewing progress
CBSE has taken the help of technology to come up with a tool called Saransh. This helps parents and teachers to review the progress of students and take appropriate steps to resolve issues that may need attention.
Other features of the syllabus
The compulsory subjects for class 10 are – English, a second language, mathematics, science, social studies and a vocational subject. For class 12, while English is compulsory, students have a wide range of optional subjects to choose from.
Till class 8, students are expected to take up three languages, one of which is English. For class 10, CBSE offers a list of 38 languages, which includes regional, foreign and classical languages, for the second language. These are elective and vary based on each state. However, the Board is planning to do away with foreign languages soon. For class 12, a second language does not feature in the list of compulsory subjects.
Although CBSE schools are allowed to use textbooks by any publisher that cover the topics mentioned in the curriculum till class 8, as of 2017, the government is looking into making NCERT books compulsory for CBSE schools for all classes.
• Teaching methodology
CBSE employs modern teaching methodologies and technology in classrooms. Regular teacher training programmes are conducted to train master trainers and mentors to help spread the benefits of such training programmes.
• Boon for parents with transferable jobs
CBSE follows a uniform syllabus throughout the country. So, government employees with transferrable jobs do not need to worry about hiccups in their children’s education in case of a transfer.
In a nutshell, if your ward is looking forward to studying in a premier college in India after school, studying in a school following the CBSE curriculum would serve the purpose best. So, look no further and go in for the CBSE board.
Hannah S Mathew is a freelance teacher, trainer and certified diagnostic counsellor.