From 2015, Cambridge International Examinations would offer a March exam series for Indian schools. Chief executive Michael O'Sullivan, in an interview with M Saraswathy, talks about the examination board's strategy for India and its expansion plans. Edited excerpts:
You already have the June and November exam series. Why was it decided to have an additional exam series in March for India? How would it function?
We highly value the long-standing relationship we have with our schools in India and believe this new exam series will benefit many students as they enter the next stage of their education. We took this decision since we had received requests for this from Indian schools. Cambridge International Examination offers its services in 310 schools in India, which is an important market for us.
The March exam series would include the most widely taken Cambridge IGCSE subjects. It would also include Cambridge International AS level subjects from March 2016 and Cambridge International A level subjects from March 2017. The June and November exam series would continue to be offered for schools in India, so that these can decide which timetable best meets their needs.
What other initiatives is Cambridge International Examinations taking to expand in India?
In the next 12 months, we are planning to add several people to our India team. As part of our strategy, William Bickerdike, the new regional manager for South Asia at Cambridge International Examinations, will shift base to Mumbai.
Would you look at more schools in India offering only Cambridge International certification?
Our approach is we are comfortable with schools offering any curriculum, according to their independent views. Of our 310 schools, the majority offer our certification, coupled with that of other examination boards. Schools want to find their own balance between national and international education.
A growing number of schools are adopting your certification and curriculum. Do schools choose to exit it as well?
We are seeing growing demand for our courses. As of now, the trend is only of more schools joining our framework, not of schools leaving it.
Teacher training has been an area of focus in the Indian education system. What role would you play in this space?
Teacher training is a shared responsibility. In India and elsewhere, self development is crucial. We have professional development qualifications. Last year, we held 100 training events.
In India, public education has untapped potential. Have you taken steps to enter this segment?
At Cambridge International Examinations, we work with ministries across the world for education activities. In places such as Egypt and Mongolia, we have been involved in education-transformation programmes. We would be happy to play a role in the public education system in India if the Indian government needs us to.