Indian school syllabuses

ETA: Just now read LLT’s latest post. What a coincidence.. Sailing in the same boat as her 😦 

I have been analyzing about the school syllabuses followed at India for a while now. No, there is no concrete plan about R2I yet but isn’t it better to analyze ahead.

So far it looks like there are IB, IGCSE, ICSE, CBSE, Matric and state board syllabuses.

I am interested in knowing more about the pros and cons of CBSE vs ICSE vs IGCSE syllabuses.  Below are the details I have collated so far.


1. Helps if the child plans to take standardized entrance exams for professional courses at India as the exam patterns are based on CBSE syllabus.
2. Relatively easy.
3. Conceptual learning is not as intensive as other syllabuses.
4. Focus on English is comparatively less.
5. Less expensive
6. More focus on second language (Hindi, French)


I couldn’t clearly identify the difference between these syllabuses except that IGCSE follows the curriculum set by Cambridge university at UK –

1.  Internationally recognized. I guess child will be able to pursue under grad outside India without preliminary exams.
2. Relatively tough with more projects and practical/conceptual learning.
3. The curriculum is 1 or 2 grades higher than CBSE. Like whatever an IGCSE child learns in 6th grade will be learned by a CBSE child in 7th or 8th grade.
4. Focus on second language depends on the school.
5. English standard is high.
6. Easier to switch to CBSE later as curriculum is less challenging in CBSE.
7. Expensive.

I am now at an even more confused state with all these analysis.  I understand that its better to consider other factors too like

1. distance of school from home (keep it as minimum as possible)
2. school atmosphere (should be friendly and encouraging to the child)
3. parents vs teachers communication (should not be restricted)

As LLT rightly said “How can I decide about the 10th or 12th grade now when I have no clue about how the primary education is going to be? when I have no clue about what stream the child will develop interest upon?”

Looks like its not very easy to switch schools often at India (owe it to the so called capitation and other non-refundable hefty fees). After all we are not millionaires or billionaires 😦

So, assume you have few schools in your list that you are happy with based on above factors but each of them is following different syllabus. Which syllabus would you choose? Your suggestions please..

Help me to save some hair 😦 😦


18 thoughts on “Indian school syllabuses

  1. Sigh!

    I really give it you people to do so much research…I think I am hopeless honestly…I just put R in teh first school that gave her admission..its ICSE because RD studied in an ICSE and wanted his daughter to be in one *rolls eyes*

    I am from the Gujarat state board..and I keep telling him, I havent done bad in life eh?

    Guess, you must speak to Smitha (you know her?) she shifted from UK to India and her daughter is 6, so she may give you some tips

    • see its easy if one of the parent is sure about it RM.. In our case we first thought okie its CBSE as M studied CBSE but now he is also confused with ICSE, ICGSE and all these curriculum.. I am from Matric board and did better than M (hope he doesnt read this 😉 )
      we just don’t want to feel bad later on the choices we make.. Its difficult, very difficult to make decision for your child na.. Its like you are 200% responsible and you don’t want to take a chance.. 😦 talk about parenthood..
      It was so easy on our days right? when appa got transferred there was only one christian institution in the town that was good and appa enrolled me on that.. they didn’t even get the form from any other school..

  2. This is a big coincidence I am right in middle of a article on education, It is strange how much pressure is on the little kids .. the day wont be far when parent will be Driving the little child from the maternity home DIRECTLY To a SCHool and one day they will want that the child is born AS A IAS officer or something

    I did my 10th with icse then i went to Punjab board in college .. and frankly i dont think boards matter .. if the child is good they will study in a village school to.

    SO I would just say put them in a school and then see how they go , and by the 5th or 6th class you will have a fair idea what the child wants and does .. then you can decide whether to go for icse or cbse

    How does a board define is one will be good in studies or not .. I cant figure that one out

  3. Anisnest, I understand it is a big dilemma for parents. I would look at it from the point of view of affordability, distance from home, school atmosphere, emphasis on extra-curricular activities. I don’t think CBSE/ICSE makes that much of difference, because children don’t just learn from textbooks.

  4. Hmmm… we didn’t do much research for Cheebu’s school. We chose her school because it is close by our home and her daycare and hence very, very convenient for us. Academically, it is supposed to be good and wherever it lacks, hopefully we will be able to pitch in. Also, most kids in our colony and her daycare go to the same school, so it was an obvious choice. It follows CBSE board.

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