Top-notch curriculum, but...

Top-notch curriculum, but...

DUBAI - When the Indian Central Board of Secondary Education launched its international curriculum as a pilot scheme in 2010, its intention was to promote ‘out of the box’ thinking among children.

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Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Tue 3 Apr 2012, 9:30 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 12:56 AM

Two years later, parents, students and school managements of Indian schools in the UAE following the syllabus are often left scratching their heads for solutions.

As the academic year 2011-12 came to a close, three schools in Dubai: Our Own High School, Al Warqa’a, Our Own English High School and Our Own Indian High School decided to discontinue the syllabus for senior classes because students and parents were finding it difficult to keep pace with the curriculum.

They said that even though the curriculum was top-notch, the students found it very difficult to prepare for their examinations because the there was no proper study material available. Off the record, teachers and parents claimed there was a constant shift in the syllabus prescribed by the Board and exams were introduced in the last minute. Officials from the school management went on to say that the shift from CBSE-i to CBSE was not ideal, but in this case it is the best decision and meets the needs of parents and pupils.

Meanwhile, an official from CBSE-i in Delhi stated that the above mentioned schools were ‘disaffiliated’ from the Board on account of their inability to fulfil the requirements enumerated in their letter of approval to introduce CBSE-i.

Dr Sadhana Parashar, Director (Training) of CBSE-i said: “The CBSE had conducted baseline study of the schools that had introduced the CBSE-i curriculum and has also deputed a team of one to two senior officers of the Board to each school for two days to undertake comprehensive and holistic review of the school functioning in year 2011.

“Till date the Board has issued notices to two schools because they have not fulfilled certain conditions in the approval for introduction of CBSE-i curriculum.

“The schools have not provided separate facilities for the classes of CBSE-i within the existing system. The schools have also appointed many teaching staff with less than three years teaching experience.”

She added that this decision has been supported by the report of the baseline study conducted by the Board. “In fact, the Principal and staff did not make efforts to make the parents and students understand the curriculum in the schools,” added Parashar.

The syllabus was officially launched in Grades 1 and 9 in the year 2010. The schools are run by GEMS education. In response to the queries mailed to them, an official spokesperson from GEMS said: “All GEMS Schools teaching the CBSE will continue to implement elements of CBSE-i, where it offers clear educational advantages for our students.”

An earlier statement from GEMS had stated that the Group Director of Asian Schools had met with the CBSE in February 2012 and explained the situation and the reasons behind the decision, foremost of which was parental concern about the Grade 9 cohort under-performing at a critical stage in their education. “The reaction was as one would expect; regret but with understanding and a mutual desire to work together to improve the educational opportunities for children,” said the spokesperson.

Khaleej Times spoke to a few teachers teaching the CBSE-i curriculum, who said off the record that they have worked very hard to implement the syllabus in their respective schools. “The syllabus is of great quality and it would benefit the child immensely. But communication from the Board’s side was very poor. We were not made aware of the existence of any portal that provides information about the syllabus.”

Parents like Linny M (name changed at request), whose daughter is graduating from Grade 9 to 10 in a CBSE-i curriculum school said that conceptually the syllabus is good, but the system is not equipped for it. “For the longest time, I thought my daughter was not studying anything. Then when I started looking into her studies I realised that the material her teachers were providing was of substandard quality. The notes provided was copy pasted from various websites. It was too complicated for a child of her age to understand, in turn making it very frustrating for her,” said Linny.

The CBSE-i encourages teaching without text-books. There are certain manuals which can be downloaded from the Board portal, but the parents or teachers were not made aware of the existence of such a portal.

“Parents are very important stake-holders of the Board. To make things easier, the Board has opened a parent-corner in the portal to communicate the philosophy of the curriculum to all those involved,” stated Dr Parashar.

A 10th grade student in one of the schools said: “I had to work very hard to prepare for the exams, and in a way it was really helpful because I ended up studying and learning a lot more than I usually do.”

Another parent went on to add that she spends an average of Dh1,500 on tuitions for her daughter. “Everything was disorganised. I had to send my daughter for tuition for almost all subjects because there were no proper guidelines.”

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