With the news this week that the CBSE-i curriculum will be withdrawn in just two months’ time, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com wanted to know more about what parents can expect from schools now left to rush through the transition.
We met Karan Brown Head of Indian Schools for Al Najah Group and Latha Venkateswar, Principal, Sabari Indian School, to discuss the CBSE-i curriculum, the issues surrounding its withdrawal and how schools and parents can best prepare for the transition ahead.
Firstly, although the CBSE-I was only ever a pilot programme, why in your opinion did the board axed the CBSE-i exams and why now?
The CBSE-i was primarily designed to cater to the needs of the Indian Diaspora settled abroad. It was removed because of several operational difficulties, including availability of quality reading material of global standards.
While there’s been a lot of work done on developing CBSE-I content for the Primary Phase, the middle school content definitely needed more focus.
But why such short notice, just two months to transition?
It's the Board’s decision and they may have their own reasons for it.
Can you outline the major differences between the CBSE-i and CBSE curricula?
CBSE-i was a pioneering approach by CBSE to deliver education with a global outlook to overseas Indian students.
It had a globalised approach, whilst incorporating locally relevant components depending on where the school is located. There was more flexibility in the courses that would focus on world geography and regional issues.
The programme was more skill based and thematic emphasising application and higher order thinking skills. The system had greater scope for a range of rubric based self, peer and teacher assessments, and it offered students an opportunity for enquiry and natural cross curricular connections. It helped to foster creative and critical thinking.
Which Grades/age of child do you think is going to make for the toughest transition from CBSE-i to CBSE?
I believe the grade which will be hit the most are the current Grade 9 CBSE-i students who will now move to the CBSE Grade 10 examination pattern.
Which subjects do you think will cause the biggest issues for children transitioning from CBSE-i to CBSE?
The CBSE framework provides enough flexibility to the Primary and Middle grades to cover concept in an experiential manner and for a schools like ours where we teach the bespoke curriculum subject boundaries don’t really matter.
What can parents do to help their child transition as smoothly as possible during this time?
The hands on approach to learning and the transaction of the curriculum in an experiential manner is what finally matters in improving student learning outcomes.
For example, one could do more of collaborative mind mapping of concepts and skills so that students are able to apply and consolidate their learning and learn from each other.
From a school's perspective, what is going to be the potential issues in the transition?
Obviously the most important is the need for schools to be affiliated with the CBSE board for them to now teach the CBSE curriculum, for those without the required affiliation, it will be of the upmost urgency that they complete the process.
Also, schools which use CBSE-i coursework would have already ordered their CBSE-i specific textbooks for the forthcoming academic year, not only will this be a huge expense but they will now need to replace these orders with the CBSE text books and might face delays in delivery.
Are you sad to see the CBSE-i system go? Can you explain why?
The CBSE-i curriculum has a lot of good elements but has its shortcomings too. The need of the hour is an enriched CBSE curriculum which is deeply rooted in the Indian culture and yet has the breadth and depth of the international curriculum. Such a bespoke international curriculum will help our students, particularly in the UAE context, to apply local and global perspectives and meet the National Agenda Targets as they compete with their counterparts in Singapore, Korea, Japan and Finland, the so called high performing curricula in TIMSS and PISA.
How has Sabari School prepared for the transition from CBSE-i to CBSE in April?
Luckily, for Sabari Indian School, we offer a bespoke curriculum that is CBSE in its foundation and roots, but international in its scope and approach. In order to meet with the UAE international standards, our specifically formulated Curriculum Committee at Sabari Indian School, has mapped the CBSE curriculum with the world’s highest performing curricula such as Singapore and Finland.
At Sabari we’ve already for some time been moving towards technology driven learning, so we’re expecting a smooth transition aided by iPad technology.