The number of CBSE schools in Bengal has risen by around 50 over the past one-and-a-half years, a pointer to the growing interest of students in the Delhi-based board whose syllabus is attuned to the several all-India admission tests it conducts.
There are around 260 CBSE schools in the state, up from 210 in February last year.
“The number of schools affiliated to the CBSE is increasing. There were 210 CBSE schools in Bengal in February 2013, now there are about 260. The rise has been almost 20 per cent,” Anand Verma, regional officer, CBSE Regional Office, Bhubaneswar, said on the sidelines of a meeting with principals at Hariyana Vidya Mandir on Saturday.
The Bhubaneswar region — comprising Bengal, Odisha and Chhattisgarh — has seen a jump in the number of CBSE schools from 700-odd to 1,000.
“The CBSE is emerging as a sought-after board among students because its curriculum gives them a competitive edge over other boards,” said a CBSE official.
“CBSE courses are becoming more and more popular among students as the board conducts several all-India competitive exams.”
The board conducts some of the national level tests for entry to medical and engineering colleges, including the All India Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Entrance Test and Joint Entrance Examination (Main).
The board prepares the syllabi of these exams based on its curricula at the Plus-II level.
The students of other boards are at a disadvantage because when they prepare for the competitive exams they have to study additional chapters.
The syllabus and the question and evaluation patterns of Madhyamik and the Higher Secondary exams differ from that of the CBSE-held admission tests.
“The CBSE conducts competitive exams and there is a similarity in the examination pattern in classes XI and XII with that of the competitive exams. Students feel they have a competitive edge over others,” said Reeta Chatterjee, the principal of the Apeejay Schools.
“The CBSE follows a standardised syllabus, which is upgraded regularly,” pointed out Verma. “We offer a wide range of subjects, including as many as 44 vocational subjects like entrepreneurship and information technology.”
The stress in Madhyamik and the Higher Secondary exams is on long-answer questions, which results in students scoring lower marks compared to those appearing in an objective question-based CBSE test.
The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, which conducts the ICSE (Class X) and ISC (Class XII) exams, has taken some steps to bring a parity with the CBSE.
Principal Chatterjee said another major advantage of the CBSE system is that there is “no delay in the publication of results”.
In Calcutta, Shri Shikshayatan School and South Point High School have already got a CBSE affiliation, while Gokhale Memorial Girls’ School have applied for a switch.
“The CBSE has an all-India recognition and it’s curriculum is intense. Scholastic subjects and co-scholastic activities are given equal importance in the curriculum,” said Indrani Ganguly, the principal of Shri Shikshayatan.
“For the past couple of years, we were losing some of our good students in Class XI to other boards. Last year as many as 30 per cent of our students left us for CBSE schools.”
Shri Shikshayatan is phasing out the state board syllabi, with the last batches set to appear in Madhyamik and the Higher Secondary in 2015.
At South Point, parents of Class V students are given the option to choose between the state board and the CBSE.
“A huge majority of the parents opt for the CBSE. We had applied for a CBSE affiliation following requests from parents,” said Krishna Damani, trustee, South Point Education Society.
Hariyana Vidya Mandir principal Nandini Sen, who hosted Saturday’s meeting, said the number of students from other boards seeking admission to Class XI at her school is increasing by the year.