x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Tough test, but hard work pays off for the diligent

The Indian curriculum is regarded as one of the toughest but many Gulf pupils are passing with flying colours - and the girls lead the way.

Eleanor Furtado, in red, with her sister Kelly Ann at their family home. Eleanor scored 95% overall at Our Own English High School in Dubai and hopes to attend college in India, where she is from.
Eleanor Furtado, in red, with her sister Kelly Ann at their family home. Eleanor scored 95% overall at Our Own English High School in Dubai and hopes to attend college in India, where she is from.

ABU DHABI // Eleanor Furtado hopes to break the gender stereotypes and become an engineer - just like her father. Miss Furtado, 14, gave that career ambition a significant boost when she was among the many high scorers at her school in recent Indian-curriculum examinations. She was one of about 11,000 pupils in the Gulf region to sit the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) class 10 exams.

"My mum was really happy," said Miss Furtado, who hopes to attend the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)after graduation. "It's the most accredited in engineering. It's my dream to get into IIT." A pupil at Our Own English High School in Dubai, she scored 95 per cent overall, with her top marks in maths and sciences. Gulf pupils outperformed their peers in India in the exams, with a 97.66 per cent pass rate compared with India's 88.84 per cent. In both regions, girls performed better overall than the boys.

Akilesh Mohan, a pupil at the Abu Dhabi Indian School, achieved an average score of 96.8 per cent, the highest in the UAE. Sandhya Sabapathy, from Dubai's Indian High School, was second with a 96.5 per cent average. Three other students tied for third place with a score of 96.4 per cent. Diksha Laungani, 16, also from Our Own English High School, scored 93.8 per cent overall and was rewarded by her parents for her efforts. "I got a new cell [phone] and we went out bowling last night."

Miss Laungani, who enjoyed her language studies most of all, plans to become a human resources professional. "I think I would be good as a human resources manager. I'm good with people and good with communicating." In addition to her in-class work and four hours of homework every weekday, she would hit the books also on weekends. "I actually started studying right from the first day," she said. "Daily studying is the reason why these marks came about." She plans to pursue her studies in Dubai after completing her secondary schooling in order to be close to her family.

The New Dehli-based CBSE conducts two series of exams for pupils taking the Indian school curriculum; one in 10th grade and another in 12th grade. The curriculum is generally thought by educators to be among the toughest in the world, with all students, like Miss Laungani, encouraged to study for four hours each day on top of in-class work to prepare for their exams. Results for Indian-curriculum pupils in the Gulf region have been steadily improving. This year's pass rate was slightly up on last year.

Ainsley Edgar, the principal at Our Own English High School, said the exams were critical for pupils. "This is important to the extent that children will be able to decide which stream they will study. Whether it is commerce, science, humanities, depends on how well they do," he said. The results also help determine which professional fields the pupils will be able to pursue. The exams are conducted in several countries, including the Gulf states and India. More than 800,000 pupils sat this year's round.

Of the 52 schools in the UAE that conducted the class 10 exams, eight achieved a 100 per cent pass rate. These were: the Emirates National School; Asian International Private School, Ruwais; Delhi Public School, Sharjah; the Millennium School, Dubai; Our Own English High School, Sharjah; Darul Huda Islamic School, Dubai; Gulf Asian English School, Dubai; and Abu Dhabi Indian School. jgerson@thenational.ae