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IB vs CBSE vs State Board-Which is better for Indian Students

The school education system in India is always under fire. Parents and academicians alike find a lot to debate and argue about what is wrong with it, and what needs to be changed. We have several educational programmes (boards) and curricula at the school level, which create an inevitable divide. The educational ecosystem differences become stark, with international programmes, such as the IB, joining the fray. 

We will compare these educational systems and let you judge which is best for a student. However, before we delve into the topic, we would like to state that each method has its merits and demerits. No one system can be the ‘best’ for all Indian students. Best is, after all, a very subjective term. 

The education systems we are discussing are –

  • IB: International Baccalaureate
  • CBSE: Central Board of Secondary Education
  • State Board: State Government Recognised Board of Education (each state has its board)

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an international educational foundation, started in 1968, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The IB education system is followed in over 150 countries, including the UK, USA, Indian and Australia etc.

The IB schools are not new in India; they have been running for over 45 years. There are several IB schools in Thrissur. TIST is one of the most prominent among them. Today, there are 186 schools in India, offering one or more of the four IB programmes, which are:

  • Primary Years Programme for KG – Class V offered by 107 schools
  • Middle Years Programme for Class VI-X offered by 46 schools 
  • Diploma Programme for Class XI-XII offered by 146 schools
  • Career-related Programme offered in 1 school

Advantage of IB education

The IB education system focuses on students’ overall development by encouraging curiosity and critical thinking through a syllabus that focuses on application and experimentation rather than rote learning. The IB system is internationally acclaimed and accepted. Students find it easy to make the transition from IB schools to international universities for undergrad studies.

IB schools boast excellent facilities on campus and digital laboratories and classrooms. They provide a truly international learning experience. And are a good option for parents who want to send their children overseas, for higher studies or for those who live and work abroad or have plans of migrating. 

Disadvantage of IB Schools

  • The most discouraging feature of IB schools is the high tuition fees; it can go into a few lakhs, per year, and is beyond the means of an average family. Only parents who can afford the high costs can admit their children to these schools. 
  • The majority of schools following the IB curriculum are located only in the big cities. Shifting schools can be a big issue if the family has to move. 
  • After studying in an IB school, adapting to a different board’s curriculum and teaching methodology is tough. 

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)

CBSE schools are the most preferred educational institutions in the country. CBSE schools follow a set pattern of education, have standard textbooks and teaching methods. And are hence ideal for parents who have transferable jobs. Whether it is CBSE schools in Thrissur those in the Andamans, all follow the same curriculum. 

CBSE conducts board exams for class X and XII at a national level –

  • CBSE Class X Board Exams: All India Secondary School Examination (AISSE)
  • CBSE Class XI Board Exams: All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE)

Advantage of CBSE Board

  • The biggest plus is that there are 25123 CBSE affiliated schools spread across the country. No matter where in India, there is bound to be a CBSE school. That is not all; CBSE schools are also running in several foreign countries, such as Malaysia, UAE, Singapore etc. 
  • The NCERT textbooks prescribed by the board are standard for all CBSE schools. 
  • CBSE schools provide the perfect academic foundation to students aspiring to appear in competitive examinations, like IITJEE, NEET, AIPMT etc. 
  • Higher education institutions, in India and abroad recognise the CBSE. 
  • Several olympiads and national level talent search examinations base the questionnaire on the CBSE syllabus. 
  • CBSE recently introduced the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation method, a grading system, for classes VI-X, which is better than the previous marks/rank based evaluation. 

Disadvantage of CBSE Schools

  • Though there are changes, yet, education remains more textbook and examination-oriented. Practical experiences, innovation, skill development and critical thinking need to be improved. 
  • CBSE students can find themselves, victims of state policies, at the time of admission into colleges. Some institutions under state governments have higher quotas for students from state boards. 

Also read, How to make your higher studies easier.

State Board Schools

Providing education is the primary duty of State and Union Governments—they impart primary, secondary and higher education through the State Board schools. State Boards follow a pattern similar to the CBSE, in the way exams are conducted, but the curriculum is different. 

  • Secondary School Certificate (SSC) – Class X
  • Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) – Class XII

Advantage of State Board Education

  • The local language is given importance, even if the medium of instruction is English. Students learn to read, write and speak in their mother tongue. 
  • Admission into these schools is easy.
  • Reservation in the state recognised institutions for higher education.
  • Fees are affordable. 

Disadvantage of State Board Schools

  • Institutions may lack proper infrastructure. 
  • The reservation policies for teaching staff can compromise the quality of teaching.
  • Exam questions are predictable, making it relatively easy to score high marks. 
  • The curriculum does not prepare students for competitive exams.

So we have analysed the merits and demerits of IB, CBSE and State boards. It’s up to your individual decision to finalize which is better for the career.

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