Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Other Considerations while Selecting an International School Program

In my previous post on International Boards offered by some popular schools in Mumbai, I had mentioned that I would share a link to a Google Sheet on the programs offered by International Schools in Mumbai.  Please follow this link to the data, and this link to a map of International Schools in Mumbai, and another map of ICSE CBSE schools in Mumbai.

What are some of the similarities between these international boards?  One thing that both Cambridge and IB boards offer in common is the methodology of teaching.  Both the programs believe in the same philosophy of developing creativity, thinking skills, research skills, language fluency, independence and they teach with an international perspective. Both boards are very rigorous in their preparation of the students. Both boards are more progressive than Indian boards, where curriculum and subjects are revised every year. Both boards are recognized by most universities overseas.  

On the negative side, neither of the international boards prepare your child for the common entrance exams for engineering or medical colleges in India.  Acceptance of students from these boards (at grade 13) at most colleges in India varies, and a large percentage of students (not all) do pursue their college overseas. Both boards require a lot more involvement from the parents in their children’s work than Indian boards. Cambridge is approximately 3x ICSE fees, and IB is approximately 3x Cambridge fees, so many parents grapple with understanding how school fees have increased so much from their time.

In my search for more points of comparison, I came across this site in Malaysia which does (1) A side by side comparison between IB and IGCSE by compiling “the thoughts of educators, policy makers, parents and students1.”  While I don’t completely agree with some of the statements related to IGCSE which makes it sound more like the ICSE examination, the site is definitely worth a read. Finally, which program is ‘better’ is relative.  Each program prepares your child slightly differently from the other.  But more importantly, in line with my previous post, “enthusiastic, skilled and committed teachers matter far more than the program1.” Does the school of your choice have them?

Parents must think about what they want their child to do after the 10th grade, and subsequently the 12th grade.  If there is a high probability you want them to continue in India, then selecting a school that provides Cambridge (IGCSE) in the middle years gives you the option to either shift to an Indian board for 11-12th grades (commonly referred to as 'junior college' in India), or continue with international boards at the same or another school. If you pick the international board path but prefer they pursue their undergraduate studies in engineering or medicine in India, you need to find out how students who are currently studying at international boards for 11-12th grades are preparing for their common entrance exams, and the challenges they face in preparation of the same.

I hope these posts have been informative, and have cleared some of your doubts about how to think about the two international programs.  I do look forward to hearing back from you.

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