More options with IB, IGCSE

These curricula prepare students for a university experience at home and abroad.

Published - March 13, 2016 05:00 pm IST

Problem-solving wins, not rote-memorisation. Photo: Manoj Kumar

Problem-solving wins, not rote-memorisation. Photo: Manoj Kumar

A survey commissioned by The HRD Ministry highlights the tenfold increase in the number of IB schools in India for the past 10 years. Beginning with mere 8 institutes in 2000, today, the number of international schools has grown to 478. Karnataka has the second most, following Maharashtra.

Both the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma programme are two-year courses of study. One leads into another. The IGCSE curriculum is modeled after the British GCSE programme, while the International Baccalaureate Organisation are headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and have offices worldwide. The IGCSE is largely subject- and exam-based while the IB has exams and a coursework element and additional required components.

CURRICULA The IB curricula require that you take six subjects. It is a pre-university course. In IGCSE, students in grade 9 and 10 usually study 9-10 subjects with a wider variety of subjects. The most successful subjects learned in IGCSE are often those carried on in the IB. Students studying in the IB programme are required to take part in there other learning experiences which make IB very unique; Creativity, Action, Service (CAS), Theory of Knowledge (TOK), and Extended Essay (EE). Evidence of learning in CAS is recorded in a reflection journal, while evidence of the TOK takes the form of a presentation and an essay, and the EE is a large self-driven research project, in a subject chosen by the student. There is no similar programme to this in IGCSE or any other curricula.

More and more, schools are opening in India offering the IGCSE and the IB. Both curricula require accreditation. IGCSE is accredited by Cambridge International Examinations or by Edexcel. There is only one organisation that accredits IB schools: the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). Both accreditation processes require teacher training, facilities inspections, exam security inspections, and policy documentation. Both inspect schools regularly and do help provide a safe, secure, and honest learning experience for the student. Neither of these encourages students to be rote-memorisation masters, but instead aim to develop thinking and problem solving skills in students.

More and more universities in India are accepting IB students as these students are trained in how to conduct research and how to think.

These two programmes complement each other and are extremely academically rigorous. The benefits of being educated in an intercultural school are clear. Students learn naturally about cultural differences. Students gain friends from a variety of backgrounds. Students learn to see that differences are not “bad,” but that differences make us unique. And yes, these curricula do provide a strong stepping stone, helping prepare students for a university experience abroad or at home, here in India.

The writer is the Dean of Studies, Canadian International School, Bengaluru.

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