DUBAI // The wait is over for more than 3,200 students who have received their final school results from India.
Grade 12 students at more than 30 Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools yesterday received report cards containing the grades that will determine their future career options.
Students were divided into three streams - science, commerce and arts - for the examinations, which took place in March at 34 centres in the UAE, Doha, Qatar and Kuwait.
According to CBSE officials, Indian students in the Gulf region achieved an overall pass rate of 94.2 per cent - 0.8 per cent higher than last year. This is higher than their counterparts in India, who achieved a pass rate of 81.7 per cent.
Girls in the region scored higher than boys, with an overall average score of 96.8 per cent.
"This year, results have surpassed those of previous years," said VK Mathu, the principal of Abu Dhabi Indian School. "It's a tough fight for places at universities in India and students here are constantly striving to make it to the top to get an upper hand in the admission process," he said.
Mr Mathu's school was attended by the top achiever in the UAE, Akhilesh Mohan, who scored 98 per cent in the science stream.
Varun Chandrashekar, a science student at the Delhi Private School in Dubai, achieved 91.8 per cent.
"It has been a bit hectic for me, the past two years," said Varun, who has also had to study for several national level examinations to help him gain a seat at his preferred university, the Indian Institute of Technology.
"That is my first choice, but I know I am in line with 2,000 more students," he said.
Varun started preparing for his CBSE exams earlier this year with the help of teachers from coaching institutes. "These institutes just prepare you better for the competitive exams as well as develop a strong base for the boards," he said.
Competition for a limited number of seats at India's best science colleges is getting tougher as more students pursue careers in medicine and engineering. However, reforms proposed by the CBSE aim to reduce the "unhealthy" aspects of such competition at the school level while also promoting new programmes to broaden students' career choices.
In March, for the first time, Grade 12 students in India could opt for examinations in graphic design and heritage crafts, while schools in the UAE are planning to diversify their courses from next year.
Sajna Santhosh, a mathematics teacher at the Our Own Indian School in Dubai, said students often grew up with an ambition to become doctors and engineers due to pressure from their parents.
"It is how they grow up and even if they are not cut out for these professions, they take on the added pressure just to make it to these universities," she said.
As the CBSE focus has shifted from bookish knowledge to analytical thinking in the past two years, the teacher has seen her students' grades improve from an overall pass rate of 50 per cent to as high as 85 per cent this year.
"Students should be able to take a combination of subjects and not get stuck with limited options within three streams."
Vijayan Pandarathil, the father of Kalyani Vijayan who achieved the top score in the arts stream with 95.6 per cent, said his daughter had always wanted a career in law. "I know many families push their kids for science programmes and those who take arts are looked down on," he said.
"Kalyani had the marks to get into the science stream but she did not want to, and we supported her."
Kalyani is currently in India taking her Combined Law Entrance Test and has already secured a place at Christ College in Bangalore.
"She was expecting these results, so she did not sound that excited, but we are overjoyed," said her father.