Parents- when you think of school days, do you remember the simplicity and comfort it stood for?

Now, you, the modern Indian Parent are in a peculiar situation. You are expected to raise Super Children. They need to excel in the classroom, play at least one Sport, master one Art form, speak at least one Foreign language, find time to do some extra Online courses, participate in MUNs, take up Leadership positions at School, stay enthusiastic about social gatherings, explore Careers. All this while preparing for Exams and acing them.

And if it was not enough to make all these decisions for your child, the BIGGEST decision you will ever make is the Curriculum you choose to place them in. 

Circa 2019, Schooling is not what it used to say even a decade ago. Indian Education as an industry is expected to reach USD 180 billion by 2020. In fact, the K-12 education systems in India are among the biggest in the world. There are currently over 1.46 million K-12 schools and 250 million students enrolled over different curricula! Indian Parents have at least eight different Curriculum options to choose from. Of these, 4 are the most popular. Within the Indian education system,

The Most Popular Curricula Other Than State Boards Are:

National Curriculum comprising the 

  1. Central Board of Secondary Education i.e. CBSE 
  2. Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination i.e. ICSE or CISCE, 
  3. National Institute of Open Schooling i.e. NIOS and  
  4. International Curriculum comprising 
  5. International Baccalaureate i.e. IB and
  6. Cambridge Assessment International Education i.e. Cambridge International.

1. CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) 

CBSE is headquartered in Delhi and has been in existence since 1962. It is among the oldest and most popular education boards in the country with over 20,000 schools. Its curriculum is highly structured, controlled, and predictable with a higher emphasis on transferring theoretical knowledge. CBSE’s certificates are recognized all over the country. Since 2009, the CBSE curriculum has focused on going beyond textual learning and has brought in progressive steps like the introduction of Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) for grades 6 to 10. This was aimed to test students throughout the year rather than a single exam at the end of the year. However, the CCE was scrapped for class X in 2017 and a single Board examination was reintroduced. Regardless, the CBSE curriculum is now also accepted in Singapore, Malaysia, UAE, and even Japan, to name a few.

CBSE is known to provide a great foundation for Mathematics and Science. The CBSE also conducts the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medical aspirants and also used to conduct the AIEEE before it was merged with the IIT-JEE in 2013. Most of these entrance examinations borrow from the CBSE curriculum in terms of subjects and topics tested. As a result, CBSE is most preferred by engineering and medical aspirants and by those who may have frequently-moving jobs. 

2. Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE)

The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination, which was established in 1958, issues the Indian Certificate for Secondary Education (ICSE) for class 10 students and the Indian Secondary Certificate (ISC) for class 12 students. It was set up primarily to facilitate the administering of examinations that were earlier being conducted by the University of Cambridge, to suit Indian standards and needs. However, in the last few decades, it has grown to become one of the most widely respected Boards in the country thanks to its focus on comprehensive education. Today, there are more than 2000 schools following the CISCE curriculum. 

The CISCE certificates are nationally and globally recognized and the curriculum is even followed in some countries like Singapore, UAE, and Indonesia, etc. There is a balance in the curriculum with equal importance being given to sciences, arts, and humanities. In fact, due to the heavy influence of Cambridge, the CISCE provides an excellent base for languages and enables students to do very well in tests like the IELTS and TOEFL.     

3. National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS)

The NIOS was previously called National Open School. It was established by the HRD Ministry in 1989. The aim was to make education and literacy available to all segments of society and make it flexible. Taking in 350,000 students every year, the NIOS is the largest open schooling system in the world! 

The NIOS also conducts examinations similar to those of CBSE and CISCE for secondary and senior secondary students. It also provides vocational courses after high school. It also has collaborations with the Commonwealth of Learning and UNESCO. In terms of curriculum, the NIOS is quite similar to the CBSE. The certificate of NIOS is valid all over India and also in certain institutions abroad. 

It provides a great amount of flexibility in learning and is especially preferred by those students who may have special needs, or are unable to attend a regular school for several reasons. 

4. International Baccalaureate (IB) 

IB or International Baccalaureate is based out of Geneva, Switzerland. Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate system of education also known as IB is a highly reputed educational board. It offers a number of well-devised and structured educational curricula across grades. The curriculum is widely known for its International approach and imparting a global education to its students. It is gaining popularity in India as a result of this and there are currently around 175 schools offering the IB curriculum. 

IB is offered in three levels: Primary Years Programme for classes 1 to 5, Middle Years Programme for classes 6-10 and the IB Diploma Programme for classes 11 and 12. The most favorable part of IB is the attention it gives to analytical and critical thinking skills. Since the quality and style of teaching is in adherence to global standards, IB is mostly preferred by parents who want to send their children abroad, those who have lived abroad or those who keep moving countries even. That being said, several top Indian colleges and universities also accept the IB certificate today.

5. Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE)

The Cambridge Assessment International Education is a part of the University of Cambridge. It is a division of Cambridge Assessment which was founded in 1858 as the not-for-profit, non- teaching wing of the University of Cambridge. After IB, Cambridge Assessment is the second successful international board in India. There are 400 Cambridge International schools in India currently. The Cambridge curriculum empowers students with a deep knowledge of the subject, problem-solving skills while also building their critical thinking, independent thinking, and decision-making skills. 

The CAIE offers IGCSE, O Level, International AS & A Level, and Pre-U exam. There are several subjects offered by the Cambridge board- 55 at the A level and 70 at the IGCSE level thereby offering a wide range of options to students to pick those subjects that they like and enjoy studying. The Cambridge certificate is recognized and accepted by the best all over the world. Quick fact:

The CIE (Cambridge) and IB curricula have seen the biggest growth (50% and 55%) in just the past four years. (to be written in a bigger font, within quotes)

As of 2018, there were nearly 7,50,000 students from India who went to study overseas. There is a common belief that Students from International Curriculum Schools can only get admissions to Universities outside India. 

The truth is a very different picture. An increasingly large number of Indian universities, both Public & Private, are beginning to accept Students from International Curriculum Schools. It has been found that 60% of students from international curricula stay in the Indian education system.

If only, there was a simple tool.  A tool that already contained all the information you needed, that took your own aspirations, lifestyle, and affordability into account matched that with the interest, aptitude, and personality of your child and produced custom-made curriculum options for you! So,

How Do I Decide Which Curriculum Is Best For My Child?

Here are a few factors you need to consider while evaluating different Curriculums:

  • Frequency of Updation
  • Focus on Teacher Training
  • Student-Centricity
  • Skill Building in Students
  • Experiential Learning & Practical Exposure
  • Quality of Teacher Training 
  • Focus on Career Guidance
  • Ease of College Placements in India & Abroad
  • Costs Involved

Now that you have some kind of checklist, you are ready for the next step which is introspection and selection. And while as a parent you have many aspirations for your child, ask yourself whether what you want is in alignment with his/her Aptitude, Interest and Personality. For instance, you might want your child to be an IAS officer, but he/she probably wants to become an Architect. You need to sit down and have that Career Conversation to be on the same page about their future.

Now, Ask yourself some Simple Questions:

1. What are your aspirations for your child? 

This question is specifically for those parents who are considering switching over to another curriculum. Some questions that might help you find your answers faster

  • Are you looking for better academic growth for your child? 
  • Are you seeking better exposure and personality development? 
  • Do you want to improve the chances of admission to better colleges? 
  • Or, are you just following what your friends/family are doing? 

2. What are your child’s interests?

Do you know what your child truly wants? You must! A person’s career is a very important part of his/her life. He/she must have a say. Find out what kind of subjects interest your children- Math, Art, History, Drama? Do they spend a lot of time in the classroom, or are they often found singing/dancing, playing on the ground? Children do the things they like. They don’t complicate matters. So watch their actions and help them choose a path that they will enjoy taking.

  • Your lifestyle

Lifestyle can have a huge impact on the school you send your child to. Your hobbies and activities in your free time can also determine what type of curriculum you’d want your child to study in. If you’ve grown up doing lots of different things, will you want that for your child too? Or would you rather have him/her do one thing and do it to perfection?   

  • Affordability 

This is a big one. As they say, education is an investment and an expensive one at that. Have you decided how much you are willing to spend on your child’s education? Do you have a strict budget? Are you considering scholarships? All of that will be a major factor in determining what school/curriculum you will ultimately select.

  • Skills 

What skills do you want your children to develop? Do you want them to build on the skills they already have or do you want them to pick up new ones? Do you want to place them in a new territory so they can pick up crucial life skills on the go? How much you care about these questions will also be one of the deciding factors. 

  • East or West, YOU need to be involved

Ultimately, no matter which Curriculum and how expensive a School you choose, YOUR involvement is critical in your child’s education. There is no such thing as an absolute curriculum and there will always be minor gaps in your experience with it. Stay top of what is happening in your Child’s education and be involved in school activities. Attend School PTMs, stay updated with the latest trends in Education & actively encourage the School to use Technology to keep you in the loop. With this, you will be able to fully justify the Curriculum & School you have chosen for your child.

Like it or not, there is a lot of your involvement that will be needed through the years of your children’s education. So, really take time to read through all the options you have, do good research, and make a prudent choice! Or, you could use the Curriculum Selector program which is the World’s first Curriculum Selector Tool developed for Parents to make this daunting decision, in an informed and very structured way.

Nidarshana Sharma
Content Manager at

A self-proclaimed coffee addict and a fan of self-help books, Nidarshana works very closely with schools, universities, and educators at Univariety. In her decade-long career, she has dabbled in Account Management, Zumba fitness, and in several forms of writing- from features to creative blogs to social media. She is also a dancer, fitness enthusiast, and a noisy vegan

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