Introduction The need to make the syllabus of the State Board on par with CBSE is imperative because the standards of the latter are quite high and in tune with the requirements of the competitive examinations like the JEE for entering the IITs and the NEET for entering the medical colleges.
The two major typesIn India, we only have the two major types of education, one that pertains and is conducted by the education department of the State concerned, and the CBSE, that is run by the Central Government. While the latter has been able to update its syllabus on a very regular basis - ninety percent of the enrollment is only in English medium schools - the syllabuses pertaining to the States are somewhat backward, both in content and in the way the students present themselves.
Two major differences The first major difference is the context of learning. In CBSE, the students always thinks in English. This international language is not spoken so widely in school, but is also strictly encouraged for thinking, be it mathematics, science or even technology-related knowledge. Hence, the children are able to be one up on understanding the global context and in relating to all things that are far beyond the syllabus itself.
There is some emphasis on project work as well. The personality development sessions, regularly conducted by many schools, is another plus. That creativity and innovation is encouraged to some extent is also another important difference.
The second major difference pertains to the reading habit. CBSE schools in urban areas leads the children to libraries like the British council, which encourages the child to learn quickly. Most parents put the child through the hard grind, particularly between the standards of eight to ten. The career awareness and the need to prepare for the JEE and/or NEET, is in the blood of the student, even when the child is in the eighth standard.
These two differences are totally absent in the State Boards. For example, in Tamil Nadu, even when the medium is English, most parents and teachers converse only in Tamil, both at school and at home. The supportive environment at home is totally absent, and the child is not able to catch up with his or counterparts of the CBSE. This makes life very difficult for the State Board child. The child always has an inferiority complex, more so, when the child enters the same coaching institute for the JEE or the NEET examinations. Since the rote learning does not expose the child to any extra learning or reading, this difference starts showing in the performance of the particular student(s).
Retaining the local cultural context The change in syllabus should be carefully done. The history behind many a happening in the particular State should also be taught. Both the old and the new, in terms of historical developments, needs to be taught. In the CBSE pattern, most of this comes from interaction with the parents or knowledgeable elders.
For instance, a child who enters the eighth standard in the State Board in Tamil Nadu should know about architectural masterpieces like the Madurai Meenakshi temple. He or she also knows how giant Public Sector Units like the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Tiruchirapalli, and the Neyveli Lignite Corporation were set up. He or she should be also taught the importance of these two organizations, in nation building and in energy requirements.
For a State Board student of Karnataka, in say Hubli, he or she should be taught about how Bangalore has come to be known as the Silicon Valley of India and is now known for its cosmopolitan culture. He or she also needs to know everything about Brindavan Gardens, Mysore, the Lalbagh, Bangalore and other historical monuments.
This is exactly what should not be lost. The State Board syllabus should not be a mere translation of the CBSE syllabus in the particular subject. This will enable the child to appreciate the wider cultural context of the particular State.
The Way ahead There is nothing wrong in enlisting the support of experts from the CBSE when the syllabus is being revised. The major points of differences as noted above need to factored in when the changes are made.
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