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Parents Opting For IB Schools Instead Of State Board Or National Curricula Schools: Know Why?

It is not the curriculum that sets international boards apart from state/national boards, but the factors stated above that result in equipping students with skill sets that are more aligned with the needs of the 21st century

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As parents, one of the most important decisions you can make for your child, is their education. Choosing the right board of studies can be a tough decision, but more so in recent times. It is becoming a status symbol among city parents who see international boards as a premium option as compared to state/national boards.

While the content and the capabilities of teachers across all three boards (state board / ICSE / CBSE) remain similar, the prime differentiator between these and international school counterparts lies in the classroom strength. The classroom strength on an average in a national/state board curriculum school is between 40 to 60, as opposed to international schools that have a maximum of 20-25. With a smaller size, the teacher can carry out many more meaningful learning engagements and the class is much more student driven as opposed to being teacher oriented. The inquiry based teaching approach that looks at encouraging children to ask questions and the teaching is directed as per that is possible only with smaller numbers in a classroom.

Another differentiator lies in how the student is assessed on the content that is taught. In primary school for example, most of the content is similar across all the boards as concepts in subjects like math and science can only be taught if they are age appropriate. But the way the student is assessed makes a big difference. International boards focus more on understanding of concepts and their application rather than simply recall.

In a more recent endeavor, the boards in India are looking to incorporate the understanding factor in terms of their assessment, but their papers still focus intensely on recall. Students who thus can cram content and efficiently reproduce the same in the exam is rewarded with the maximum marks. Whereas international boards focus more on applying that knowledge in various scenarios, and this application reflects the understanding of the child on the matter taught. This stark difference in evaluation and assessment is a strong indicator of why international schools tend to be more effective in the long run. International boards focus on 'meaningful learning' which will stay with the student for life rather than 'rote learning' which will dissipate once the exam is over.

Offering practicality, coupled with a minimal class size, elevates the position of international boards in our society.

International boards additionally offer students a choice in terms of the levels that a subject can be studied in. For example in IGCSE, in several subjects students have a choice between Core and Extended. The core curriculum touches upon the basics of all the syllabus topics, whereas extended goes in-depth in each. This flexibility allows the programme to be accessible to all kinds of learners including ones with learning needs.

Teacher professional development is another big differentiator in this context. International boards require teachers to regularly attend workshops (face to face or online) to enhance their skill sets. The training program focuses on pedagogy, assessment, inquiry in the classroom etc rather than on content. As teachers already posses qualifications that make them fit to teach the content, what is needed how to teach and these trainings touch upon that aspect.

International Boards also have courses such as Global Perspectives and Theory of Knowledge. Such courses allow students to hone their critical thinking skills which is a key skill required in the 21st century. Students work on real world issues that have not only local but also global significance and thus in a small way start thinking about problems we are facing and likely solutions for the same.

To put it briefly, it is not the curriculum that sets international boards apart from state/national boards, but the factors stated above that result in equipping students with skill sets that are more aligned with the needs of the 21st century.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Husien Dohadwalla

The author is Head of Curriculum at Fazlani L'Academie Globale and the DY Patil International School Network

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