The important aspect of a child’s learning is the syllabus that the child studies. The one that is backed by the Government of India, has a pan-India presence and sets the benchmark is the CBSE syllabus. A parent would presume that the study of the CBSE syllabus leads to success for students in entrance exams. Well, it is spectacularly off the mark. There is nothing called a CBSE syllabus.
CBSE Syllabus: Non-Existent
CBSE is the Central Board of Secondary Education. It was set up by the British in 1929 and is a legacy of the colonial era. CBSE was reconstituted in 1962 and was given the task of instituting an all India Higher Secondary Examination setting up a model that the State Boards might emulate and meet the needs of students whose parents moved from one state to another. That’s about it.
The CBSE’s only responsibility is to conduct exams of XII and X. Now, to conduct exams, students are needed. The schools have the students. So, the CBSE gives affiliations to schools for their students to appear for XII and X – the so-called Board exams. Hence, CBSE’s tasks become two – conducting the two Board exams and giving affiliation to schools for these two exams.
CBSE does not get into the syllabus. That’s not the job of CBSE at all. The tab of the syllabus on CBSE’s website leads to NCERT’s website. For parents, education has become synonymous with exams. The most important exams are the Board exams, which are the CBSE exams. So, we presume that the syllabus studied for the CBSE exams is the CBSE syllabus, which is a misnomer.
It gets even trickier for the standards I-IX. CBSE has got nothing to do with exams of all these. Now, because the parents incorrectly presumed the CBSE syllabus for the board exams, the erroneous presumption goes further. And, the syllabus for the other standards also gets called the CBSE syllabus. In reality, the CBSE has no role in the syllabus or the exams of I-IX.
The Broken Link Of CBSE – Affiliated Schools – NCERT
A parent might think that CBSE is prescribing the NCERT syllabus, which is also a Government of India agency, so it’s fine calling it a CBSE syllabus. After all, what’s in a name? Therein lies the catch. The CBSE recommends the NCERT syllabus. But, the schools don’t need to follow the same.
Wait a moment. This is getting confusing. The schools are CBSE schools and it is expected that they follow a CBSE, ok ok, an NCERT syllabus. And, that CBSE schools are not doing it!!! Well, the base assumption itself is incorrect that these schools are CBSE schools. To be precise, these are CBSE-affiliated schools.
A CBSE-affiliated school means that its students are eligible for CBSE Board exams. That’s it. Nothing more. CBSE has got nothing to do with the fees/academics/functioning of the school in any manner. Yes, CBSE does prescribe the NCERT syllabus. However, the school’s autonomy means that it is free to choose its pedagogical tools and every school does absolutely that.
CBSE lays down affiliation bye-laws and has certain infrastructure requirements. But, it is not compulsory for the schools to follow the NCERT syllabus. Also, CBSE has no control over the school’s management. Rather, the CBSE and the school are unrelated till the X Board exam. So, the school is free to choose its own syllabus. And this is never the NCERT syllabus.
CBSE Syllabus: A Free-For-All
Then, what do the students study in CBSE-affiliated schools? After all, they seem to study quite a lot. And, why can’t it be called a CBSE syllabus?
Several publishers come up with textbooks that are taught in these CBSE-affiliated schools. Each publisher has its own interpretation of the NCERT textbooks and what they want the children to study. The linkage with NCERT is slack and these publishers tend to cover stuff well beyond the NCERT textbooks. They are not bound by the curriculum framework or any such paraphernalia.
As all these publishers have separate versions, with few things in common and few not so, it is chaos. It is a free-for-all. There is no binding together of these disparate textbooks brought into existence by different publishers with varied objectives. Hence, there is nothing called a CBSE syllabus. As these publishers target more than the capability of the child, the students end up studying a lot.
Difficult to believe? What do you think is the price of an NCERT textbook, any subject, from Grade I-VII? It is Rs. 65/-. What is the price of a textbook of any of the private publishers? It will not be less than Rs. 200/-. At times, it can be even more than Rs. 300/-. Why such a huge price difference? Because there is nothing called a CBSE syllabus and it is a free-for-all.
The Harmful Effects
A parent might tend to believe that as long as the child is learning, how does it matter what syllabus the child is being taught? Why get into the needless detailing? After all, if it has been delivering till now, it should be fine. The mighty Indian education establishment will surely know what it is doing and even the CBSE Board i.e. the Government of India has seemingly no issues with that.
Well, we are made to believe that it works, whereas it is far from reality. The effects of the non-existent and free-for-all CBSE syllabus is highly damaging to the children and their future. Please read here how it negatively impacts the learning of our children (coming soon).
What are your thoughts on the CBSE syllabus? How have you seen it in action with your child?
PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert, just growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.