In a move that would be a big blow to the Indian education system, the school that has produced ministers, bureaucrats, actors, businessmen and even a few prime ministers -Doon School in Dehradun - is considering moving from the Indian Council of Secondary Education Board, which offers the ICSE curriculum, to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and IB (International Baccalaureate) curriculum from 2017.
Elite private schools across India - be under ICSE Board or Central Board of Secondary Education - are losing students in large numbers to international schools and exams like the IGCSE and IB. Across India, the trend has picked up of late. Schools like the British School in Delhi and American School (both in Delhi and Mumbai) are facing an influx of students who are being withdrawn from the Indian systems.
Recently, Doon School informed its parent community that it was considering moving from the ICSE system to IGCSE. The school already offers the IB programme for students of Classes XI and XII. To start with, Doon School plans to introduce the IGCSE curriculum for Classes IX and X from 2017.
In an email reply, the school said that it was "considering a move from ICSE to IGCSE" although a "final decision had not yet been taken" and for the time being, the school would continue to be affiliated to the ICSE Board. The move would not impact students who were already enrolled. The school is also considering changing to a three trimester system, although a final decision is pending. Parents say that they have been told the school would make the transition gradually without causing disruption to existing students.
On why it was considering the move, the school said, "Pedagogical techniques around the globe are witnessing a paradigm shift. The demands on the boys for admission into top colleges and universities, both within India and abroad, require them to be able to think critically, think conceptually and develop research and analytical skills."
In Delhi, schools like Shri Ram School, Vasant Valley and Modern School have been witness to an exodus of students to international boards. While in some schools this is just a trickle, others are losing a fair number of students every year. Shri Ram School, which has two senior school branches in Moulsari and Aravali, both in Gurgaon, that offer the IB programme to Grades 11 and 12, is planning to offer IGCSE programme from lower grades at Moulsari.
Students at Aravali have been told that they can move to Moulsari if they are keen on IGCSE. Manika Sharma, school director, confirmed this and said the school needed to move with the times and meet the demands of parents while matching up to their aspirations for their children. The school has informed parents that it will in fact be cutting sections in ICSE as it had expanded too fast in the past.
Many parents feel that the international system prepares their children better for an increasingly globalised world. Schools with affiliation to international boards have sprung up across the metros and even in smaller towns, including many of dubious quality.
With cut-offs in Indian colleges inching higher and higher every year, many students are forced to go overseas for undergraduate degrees. So parents argue that they might as well take to the system earlier. International schools that were largely unaffordable earlier are within reach of parents today with affluence on the rise.