All schools to follow common science, maths curriculum from 2011

In a significant initiative, 20 school boards today agreed on a common curriculum in science and mathematics at senior secondary level and decided to work towards a common entrance test for admission into higher courses, including engineering and medicine.

To bring uniformity in the education system across the country, the Council of School Board of Education (COBSE), the apex body for all school boards and councils in the country, decided to implement the core curriculum from 2011 and work towards the common entrance test by 2013.

“The COBSE approved the core curriculum in science and mathematics. This will be accepted by all the state boards at the senior higher secondary level. Hence forth, the core curriculum will be taught in the science stream in all schools,” human resource development minister Kapil Sibal announced.

The COBSE also agreed that the school boards will work towards a common entrance examination for admission of students in higher courses, including engineering and medicine, by 2013. The government will set up a task force which will decide the modalities of that entrance test.

The school boards also agreed to evolve a core curriculum in Commerce stream. It is expected to be ready in the next three months.

After the core curriculum in commerce, the COBSE will also move towards a common entrance in that subject.

“The idea is that there will be single entrance for each stream. The nature of the entrance will be decided by the task force,” Sibal said as he described the decision as a “historic” one.

He said common curriculum will give a level playing field for all students as they will pursue the same course. The task force will also decide how to bring synergy between the board exam and the proposed entrance examination.

Sibal said the task force, which is expected to be set up within a month, will also suggest whether the common entrance will give weightage to the marks obtained by students in their school boards. The core curriculum has been prepared in the subjects of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology. The state school board chiefs also appeared off beat over the decision.

“This is a good step to have a common curriculum. We have no problem on implementing it,” Bihar School Exam Board chairman AKP Yadav said. However, there may be certain difficulties in holding a common entrance test, he said.

“While holding a common entrance test for the country, the state’s interest has to be protected in the state level institutes,” he said.CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi said the decision would be of immense help to the students.

Poonam Sodhi, deputy secretary of Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination, said common syllabus will help in bringing the competence level of children to a same level. Sibal said that the task force will decide in two years about how to hold a common entrance test.

At present, the universities are following different practices in selecting the students for under-graduate courses. While some of them are taking students on the basis of marks, some universities are holding entrance test.

Each state is holding separate entrance test for admission of students in engineering courses. Elite institutes like IITs and NITs are taking students from the merit list of special entrance tests.

Similarly, medical institutions are holding different types of entrance tests for giving admission to students. The task force will consult the school boards, elite institutes like IITs and AIIMS to examine whether the proposed entrance will be able to cater to the requirements of all types of institutes, sources said.

The common entrance will smoothen the admission process into engineering as students will not have to appear in multiple tests. This will be in pattern of Scholastic Assessment Test, being conducted in the US.