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CBSE Vs State Boards: Tossing Numbers At Each Other Ignores A Larger Problem

Posted on June 19, 2015 in Education

By Mehernaz Patel:

Every year, India as a nation lets some of its fresher, more naive citizens, undergo a brutal, challenging, and needlessly competitive ordeal – the board exam. We’ve sat through them and waited for the results desperately hoping that those little numbers will whisper the course of our lives seductively into our ears.

The fact remains that the popular method of assessment is also the best one when it comes to crowd control – by judging a mass of millions on one standardized examination. It even sounds rather fair when one thinks about it. However, the question of ‘fair for who?’ remains unaddressed.

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Currently, Indian parents can chose from four boards – ICSE, CBSE, IB and the State Boards. Each with their own merits and drawbacks. Yet in the year 2013, there was an issue in the state of Maharashtra revolving around how the CBSE board marks had risen to a degree where it would jeopardize the futures of the State Board students and Standard12 scorers significantly.

A huge part of the probe conducted relied on how many students would get into the IITs – a most Indian method of merit evaluation. The results were interesting when we take the following into account; Nisha Kothari, an owner of an IIT coaching center, claimed that giving high marks to students who didn’t deserve it was damaging their prospects psychologically, considering that they, hypothetically, wouldn’t have to work as hard for their marks – yet in 2013, the centralized admissions process for FYJC was primarily dominated by CBSE.

Not that the situation has changed too much in 2015. Considering the IIT’s now consider 12th grade marks as well, CBSE dominates even more than it used to, which is saying something, considering in 2012 IITs picked around 57% of its candidate from State Board schools.

This is keeping in consideration that many CBSE students don’t even prefer going to a Higher Secondary Certificate based college, and their decision might just be the right one.

This gives more prominence to the metropolitan based CBSE boards as opposed to State Boards which are far more prevalent in rural areas. A token representation of the toppers who are from regional language boards doesn’t change the overwhelming edge CBSE, ICSE, and IB boards gain in vocational fields and, with respect to admissions abroad. This leaves the State SSC and HSC boards with being cheap and accessible as their sole selling point.

One can argue that this continues to re-establish the center controlled image of an India that’s progressing and is leaving behind the multitudes who cannot afford or just don’t happen to belong to CBSE, ICSE, or IB boards.

Not that the State Boards haven’t tried to inflate their results as well, the infamous “best of five” has raised the results by a degree but still cannot compare to the year round evaluation method that CBSE adopts. Perhaps if the focus was on altering and improving course material as opposed to just reducing the overall standard while hiking marks, the boards wouldn’t have to toss numbers at each other every year, in the most academically charged game of my horse is bigger than yours.