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Int'l board books scarce, pupils resort to 'copying'

Students forced to photocopy study material; many IB, IGCSE schools reportedly tweak syllabi to cope with book shortage

As more and more schools are offering syllabus in International Baccalaureate (IB) and International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), the demand for such books has shot up, causing shortage of study material in the market and forcing students to fend for themselves. 

Seeing no respite in sight even after the end of the first semester exams, students of several international schools who have been managing without text books so far, have resorted to photo-copying of books from a few fellow students -- proud owners of original study materials. 

According to sources, some schools -- subscribing to international education boards that are known for teaching students to analyse, understand and apply knowledge in context from a spectrum of subjects -- reportedly make some changes in their curriculum every year due to the scarcity of the study materials. Some schools, including Lexicon and G S International Schools, are even contemplating shifting to CBSE curriculum. 

However, most of the international schools in India that offer a combination of the ICSE, IGCSE and the IB syllabus say that the key points don't actually change apart from sciences where some information may be changed. The boards though update 10 per cent of the curriculum every year, the content offered by international boards is almost similar. It is the methodology that differs.

There are about 65 IB schools and 206 schools of IGCSE in India and all schools offering IGCSE programs are affiliated with Cambridge International Examination (CIE). Batul Kapadia, a sixth grade student from an IGSCE School, Wagholi, had tough time last semester searching for biology and chemistry books as most of city-based dealers had gone out of stock. "We had to travel to Mumbai to buy books and even there we were told to wait for over one month as the books were not available," said Batul. 

"The school tells us to get photo-copies of the notes from other school students, which is expensive. If we don't get the books on time we are given bad remarks in the report cards," said a student from Lexicon International. According to Farzana Dohadwalla, the IB representative for South Asia, international studies are not text book based. It is a practical-oriented learning process.

"Books serve only as reference points for teachers and are generally not available with all booksellers as they need import license which is difficult to procure. The books are available only with major dealers who operate close to international schools," she says.  

According to officials of Vishwashanti Gurukul International School, Hadapsar, the supply of books and other planning is done before the start of the academic year in their school. "Last year, we faced shortage of books for grade eight students. Thankfully, we had an alternative to it," said an administrator of the school.

A school representative of RIMS International at NIBM Road said, "We just offer the curriculum, but all decisions are taken by the CIE, the UK, which look after the functioning of the boards. We cannot comment any further."

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