Ambika Gulati, Principal, The Millennium School, Dubai

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“[On the central argument that the CBSE is overly controlled] schools are at liberty to work out their own vertical and horizontal escalation of the curriculum.

“In grades 9 to 12, it is good to have structured curriculum as students appear for an external examination. [Life skills, well-being, moral education should not be] stand-alone subjects. These form the bedrock of any school education.

“In keeping with the times, CBSE has introduced an optional, skill-based AI course this year for Grades 8 and 9 to make students future-ready. It is also providing teachers with training to enable them to deliver the curriculum. I am certain that over the next couple of years, the course will be offered to Grades 10–12 too.”

Dr Rishi Padegaonkar, Principal, Bright Riders School, Abu Dhabi

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“There may be talk about CBSE being outdated, but I believe curriculum developers have taken these concerns into account. The fact that students from CBSE schools regularly get accepted into Ivy League universities shows what they are learning is still relevant.

“For instance, students can now opt for a sixth subject so that a weak performance in one of the core five subjects doesn’t hold them back.

“The biggest strength of the CBSE is its focus on values. Students easily empathise with their parents, and this allows them to maintain strong family ties as they head out into the world.”

Anna Pagdiwala, Principal, Mayoor Private School, Abu Dhabi

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“A curriculum must be reviewed and updated every five years, and this is not yet happening for the CBSE. The latest major overhaul is 25 years old, and as a result, students are not being taught to think critically, or being equipped with life skills.

“So far, the changes we have seen have been introduced in what I would call a ‘bandaid’ manner. For instance, a handful of critical thinking questions are included, while the rest of the matter focuses on rote learning.

“Yes, some students do thrive at university, but many others who have studied under the CBSE do not have required skills.

“I also believe there should be a lot more focus on Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, research, and safe Internet use. These subjects have fully arrived.”

Deepika Thapar Singh, CEO Principal, Credence High School, Dubai

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“Many new skill-based subjects such as Artificial Intelligence, Information Technology, Early Childhood care and Nutrition, Banking and Insurance, Health Care, Fashion Studies, have been added. The board is now offering 17 skill subjects at Secondary and 42 skill subjects at Senior Secondary level.

“CBSE emphasises integration of co-curricular domains with curricular activities.

“Class VIII is being considered as the ideal level to introduce school students to AI. In class VIII ,this will be treated as a certification course while from class IX onwards, it will be a regular subject. Besides AI, CBSE offers three other IT related subjects.”

What are the strengths of CBSE?

Offers broad-based and comprehensive curriculum, standardised pattern of examination, plenty of subject options in grades 11/12 for both academic and skill-based subjects. Most importantly, students taking the CBSE school leaving examination are recognised across the world and students are able to gain admission into any university. The Board also undertakes regular professional development for teachers and principals.

It has introduced two levels of question papers for Grade 10 mathematics – Basic and Standard.

Made Grades 9 and 10 internal assessment more comprehensive to include multiple assessments like quizzes, exit cards, oral tests, to name a few.

What can the CBSE consider?

Strengthen its endeavour of making questions more application-based and case study oriented to develop critical thinking and analytical skills of students. This will help students move away from rote learning.

Increasing the challenge in subjects by offering them at a higher level, especially for students who wish to pursue these at university.

Offering a choice of subjects from Grade 9 rather than at Grade 11.

(Note: CBSE is an examining body of India. The onus of drafting the curriculum rests with the National Council of Education Research and Training. The board drafts are syllabus based on the National Curriculum Framework developed by NCERT)

Strengths of CBSE

Continuously bringing changes to meet the needs of all.

Board has taken certain important decisions (implemented from the current session) with the aim to create a school system that provides joyful, creative, exploratory and vibrant school experience and environment for its learners.

Extending several exemptions/concessions to candidates with disabilities as defined in the “THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES ACT 2016”.