International curricula (International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and International Baccalaureate (IB)): It seems to be the day in the sun for international curricula! Of the many across the world, the two that are most prevalent in India are the IGCSE and the IB. These are fast becoming popular, especially in select urban areas where ‘international schools’ are mushrooming almost overnight. Many traditional ICSE schools now offer IGCSE and IB certifications as well.
The IGCSE is administered by the University of Cambridge and offers a twoyear programme for grades 9 and 10. The curriculum allows for localisation to cater to country-specific contexts. The Association of Indian Universities recognises IGCSE as being on par with CBSE and ICSE.
The IB was introduced in Geneva in 1968, and emphasises the quality of assignments as opposed to the quantity. The curriculum is not limited to books; it is based on real and current events. It is a versatile curriculum in that a student can adapt to any other IB school worldwide, because it is globally recognised. The IB Diploma programme usually refers to the last two years before university (grades 11 and 12), while IGCSE refers to the two years before that (until grade 10).
International curricula are popular in India because they offer students international access and recognition. Marks are not the defining factor here- service and other skills are quite important as well. The focus is on the ability to succeed in a university environment, and be actively engaged in one’s own learning process. However, an IB education in India can be very expensive and exclusive, leading to accusations of the IB being an elitist programme.
Parents who have children studying in IGCSE or IB schools are very satisfied with the kind of education their children are getting and believe that they have made the right decision in moving their children away from the Indian system. Alka Vyas from Mumbai has one child studying in an ICSE school and the other in an IGCSE one. And this is what she has to say: “Syllabus-wise, there is not much difference between IGCSE and ICSE. There’s just a difference in the way the matter is taught, the way it is dealt with. IGCSE is more practical. In ICSE, if a child has a doubt, he is told to refer to his textbook, but in IGCSE the emphasis is on doing things and discovering the answer!”
Radhika Walia, who has studied both in the IGCSE and ICSE systems in Bangalore, agrees. “It’s a programme where you need to know a lot, it demands a lot of general knowledge. Questions are based on outside knowledge, not just the book, which is nice, if you can cope with it. ICSE is very limited…IGCSE also demands a lot, it connects a lot of things.”