The Council of Boards of School Education (COBSE) on Tuesday took a "unanimous" decision to adopt a core curriculum for physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics at the senior secondary level.

The new curriculum will come into effect from the 2011-12 academic year, Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal said here after a daylong meeting with member-boards of COBSE to forge unanimity for the core curriculum.

Mr. Sibal described the decision as a "milestone in the history of education." Though the meeting began with scepticism among some boards, the Minister claimed that apprehensions were addressed, and now "there will be a core curriculum which will be accepted by all stakeholders at the senior secondary level."

"What it means is that in all schools of India affiliated to boards that are members of COBSE, the core curriculum will be taught, so that all our children have a level-playing field." The core curriculum for these four subjects has been finalised after consultations within COBSE.

While the boards will have to draw up the syllabi on the basis of the core curriculum, they will have to work out how to tailor their examinations as per the new regime. And, now that a beginning has been made with the pure sciences and mathematics, COBSE has been asked to explore the possibility of replicating this in the commerce stream.

Tuesday's meeting was attended by representatives of 20 boards, including State boards.

Asked how he could claim unanimity, given that the Uttar Pradesh Board was not represented at the meeting, Mr. Sibal said it had communicated its support in writing.

With the core curriculum agenda clinched, the Council has now been asked by the Minister to work towards a single entrance examination by 2013 in each discipline where entrance examinations are conducted for entering professional courses. A task force will be set up to explore the possibility.