Boards and Homeschoolers

13 Dec

Okay, so you are homeschooling your child……but what about his future? Will he go back to school sometime? Will he take exams like other children and pursue further studies? Do colleges and universities here recognise homeschoolers? Will he get to do the course he wants to do?

So many questions….questions that many homeschoolers are often asked by well-meaning friends and family……and sometimes these are the same questions that beginner homeschoolers ask others! But these questions often do not have very tangible answers, as they are questions about the future – a future that we are often imagining and trying to predict or plan, in a world that is changing and growing so fast every day.

While many homeschoolers live in the now and celebrate the present moment, some feel a real need to weigh their options carefully before making decisions. These questions however unlock the doors to many possibilities that could benefit both groups. They allow us to dream and look forward with hope and faith in oneself, one’s children and in the path one has chosen. They open our minds to think about options that are available in our country and beyond. They provide the key to infinite possibilities for some, while providing warmth and comfort of treading a known and trodden path for others.

In this article and hopefully some others to follow, we will explore the current reality and what we dream of, in our country, with respect to homeschooling, boards of education and board exams.

Alternative Education Board

Some movers and shakers are even thinking of forming a cooperative to create a Board for alternative education in India – using a collaborative approach to get ideas; with self-designed, learner-centric courses; micro-credits systems; no age bar, and hands-on learning.

To follow the discussion regarding a Board for Alternate Education in India on the ning site , click on this link: Board for Alternate Education in India

To join the cooperative space to create such a board and add your own ideas and thoughts to this exciting option, please go to this page.


Some others are finding their own ways to get back into mainstream education through the different Board options currently available. There are some others who hope to change things in the mainstream education system in order to give homeschoolers and unschoolers more options to choose from – like flexischooling, changing admission criteria for exams etc.

Explore the Flexischooling option with this link: Flexischooling

The Trodden Path

While we have done some search and research to glean information on the current options available for homeschoolers, there are many areas that need more research. We hope that parents who have “been there and done that” could add value to this, by sharing their personal experiences and journeys, which could throw light on many areas that others are trying to get a hold on.

Our country has a large number of Boards for Education catering to a diverse population. It can therefore get confusing for parents sometimes to decide on which curriculum to follow or which exams to take, especially when their kids are out of the mainstream. Since the RTE and the legality of homeschooling, and admissions into schools / colleges seem to be the burning questions in the minds of many parents, we felt that this article was pertinent and much needed.

Here is a short guide on what these Boards of Education in India are and the options they give for homeschoolers in India:

ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education)

  • The syllabus is set by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE)
  • The examination is conducted once a year up to class X. For classes, XI and XII these schools follow ISC
  • The candidates have to choose six subjects or papers as per the specified regulations, including SUPW (Socially Useful productive Work)
  • Many schools now adhere to the ICSE syllabus. After completing class X of ICSE, the children can join any board – local or international.

ISC (Indian School Certificate)

  • This board is followed for classes XI and XII
  • The syllabus is set by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations
  • The examination is conducted after a two-year course of studies beyond the ICSE examination (Class X) or its equivalent
  • A candidate has to appear for two compulsory papers (English and Environmental Education) and three, four or five elective papers.
  • It is recognised by all Indian colleges and universities

Point to note: The Council is prepared to consider requests for special papers for which provisions have not been made in the regulations, at an extra cost, provided the syllabus is of an equal standard with those to which they are proposed as alternatives – see the section under Regulations on their website.

CVE (Certificate of Vocational Education)

  • This is an examination conducted by the CISCE and is taken by candidates after they have completed the ICSE (year 10) exam or its equivalent
  • It provides an alternative to higher education and prepares students for particular occupations
  • There is no age limit for candidates taking the exams
  • Some of the subjects are computer theory and system analyst, offset printing technician, graphic designing, civil engineering technician, crèche and preschool management, hospitality management, exterior and interior designing, physical education, business studies etc.
  • A candidate has to choose and appear for not more than 6 subjects including English.

For more information on ICSE, ISC Boards and CVE, please look up the CISCE website

Options for Homeschoolers: As of now, homeschoolers are not eligible to take the ICSE, ISC and CVE exams. The board does not permit private candidates to take these exams. Only regular school candidates are allowed to appear for the exams.

CBSE (Central Board for Secondary Education)

  • This board was formed keeping in mind the need of parents with transferable jobs
  • The exams are conducted in both English and Hindi
  • Schools following this curriculum have exams at the end of Class X and XII
  • Candidates have to appear for two regional language papers (but they must have cleared Hindi, English and one other language by the time they reach Class 8), and six other subjects.
  • It is recognised by all Indian Colleges and Universities
  • More information on CBSE at

Options for Homeschoolers: As of now, homeschoolers are not eligible to take the CBSE exams.

Cambridge International Examinations

Cambridge offers the learners following their curriculum, paths that they can follow from post-kindergarten through to university entrance (5-19 years). They have the Cambridge Primary, Secondary 1, Secondary 2 (IGCSE and O Levels) and Advanced (AS and A Levels) curriculum. Each of these can be used as a standalone curriculum or combined with any other local curriculum.

To take the Cambridge Exams as a private candidate, one has to register as a private candidate in a school in one’s own country (the school’s name will not appear however on the certificate issued).

This is the more expensive option available currently for homeschoolers in our country. Schools may charge extra to cover their administrative costs for private candidates.

The Cambridge curriculum material can be ordered from

IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education)

  • IGCSE is a curriculum primarily spread over classes IX and X
  • There are over 70 subject areas from which one can choose (Click here to see the list of subjects). Schools can offer any combination of subjects
  • At the end of class X there is an evaluation, just like class X exams conducted by the other Boards
  • These exams are conducted by University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) twice a year, in May/June and October/November. Results are issued in August and January
  • After completing IGCSE (class X) children are eligible to join any of the boards for classes XI & XII. It is recognised by all local as well as international schools
  • The CIE / IGCSE website is

Cambridge O Levels

  • This is an internationally recognised qualification equivalent to the UK General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). Cambridge O Level prepares learners for the Cambridge International AS and A Levels and Cambridge Pre-U
  • Cambridge O Levels have been designed for an international market and are sensitive to the needs of different countries, especially for learners whose first language may not be English
  • Cambridge O Levels are no longer available for some zones. Many schools have moved easily from Cambridge O Level to Cambridge IGCSE
  • Universities in many countries, including Canada and the USA, will admit learners on the basis of their Cambridge O Level performances alone
  • They have some unique subjects like agriculture, environmental management, fashion and fabrics, metalwork, woodwork etc. – to mention a few
  • The exams are conducted in two sessions in May/June and October/November, although some subjects are only available in May/June or October/November
  • The CIE/ O-level website is

Cambridge AS and A-levels

  • These provide a curriculum for a two year course of study i.e. classes XI and XII
  • They offer a choice of over 60 subjects (Click here to see the list of subjects)
  • Cambridge International AS Levels have half the content of the A Levels and can be completed in one year. Schools can offer the AS Level as a standalone qualification or as a precursor to the A Levels. Learners can study Cambridge International AS Level alongside other subjects to increase breadth in the curriculum and build further knowledge and understanding of other subjects they are studying at Cambridge International A Level
  • These exams are conducted by University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)
  • They are internationally recognized and quite expensive
  • The CIE / A-level website is

Options for homeschoolers: Homeschoolers in India can take these exams as private candidates registered with a school or through the British Council in some big cities/metros

Point to note: Kolkata is one such metro, where the British Council conducts the exams. The British Council at Delhi does not. If any parent knows of other centres or has any other information, please do let us know.
(We hope this community would be able to provide or find local support like home-stay options for parents who have to stay in Kolkata temporarily, if their kids have to give the IGCSE exams there).

IB (International Baccalaureate)

  • The IB programme was founded by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) based in Geneva, Switzerland
  • IB offers high quality programmes for children from ages 3 to 19 and are very expensive
  • They offer 3 programmes Primary Years Programme (age 3-12), Middle Years Programme (age 11-16) and Diploma Programme (age 16-19). There are no exams till the Middle Years Programme
  • The IB Diploma Programme is recognised by universities all over the world
  • This diploma is recognized by all Indian colleges and universities
  • The IB Website is

Options for Homeschoolers: As of now, homeschoolers are not eligible to take the IB exams as private candidates.

Matriculation Board

  • Matriculation Board is typically found in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry schools
  • The syllabus is prepared by the Members of the Board of Matriculation Schools
  • These schools follow the Matriculation curriculum from LKG to Class X. After Class X (for XI and XII grades) they follow the State Board syllabus
  • Candidates, who have appeared once through a school, can appear for this exam again as a private candidate (in Tamil Nadu). Click here for more details.

State Boards

  • Every state in India has its own board and its own rules and regulations
  • The examination is conducted by the State Education department at the end of Class X and XII
  • These are recognised by all Indian Colleges and Universities
  • The Tamil Nadu State Board allows private candidates to appear directly for the SSLC (10th Std.) exam, if they have passed 8th Std. with English. Click here for more details.
  • The Tamil Nadu State Board allows private candidates to appear directly for the HSC (12th Std.) exam (those who have passed the SSLC or its equivalent) and also has a category for regular private candidates (those who have registered for the exam earlier but failed or were absent). Candidates from other states can also appear for the exams as private candidates provided they produce their migration certificates. Private candidates can appear only for the subjects not involving practicals. Click here for more details.
  • The Maharashtra State Board also allows children to appear as external students but most people do not choose this option as the child has to do three languages compulsorily
  • We need to do more localised research to find out about options available in other State Boards
  • Check this link to find out more about the recognized Indian Boards:

National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS)

  • NIOS is an open learning institution which caters to the needs of a diverse population of learners through open and distance learning
  • It is also an examining and certifying authority by itself – just like the other National Boards
  • It provides freedom to choose subjects and online registration
  • There is no pre-qualification necessary for any course
  • A candidate has to choose five subjects for which he/she can appear one at a time. A maximum time frame of five years is given to finish all the subjects/ course from the time of registration
  • It allows for transfer of credits (up to 2 subjects) from some other Boards
  • The courses offered are:
    • Open Basic Education (OBE)
    • (Secondary – leading to Secondary School Certificate
    • Senior Secondary – leading to Senior Secondary School Certificate
    • Open Vocational Education
    • Life Enrichment Programmes – more for self-development, although some certificate courses have exams
  • Printed self-instructional study material are given to registered candidates
  • There is no upper age limit for admission into NIOS courses
  • It is recognised for admission into professional courses as well. Click here to view the court decision in this regard
  • Some success stories of students who passed the NIOS and then pursued higher education or careers can be found here
  • For more information regarding NIOS, please check

Options for homeschoolers: NIOS is a popular option for homeschoolers because of the flexibility it offers in both admission and choices of subjects.

We hope to put together a separate article for Swashikshan (to follow soon) on the NIOS that would perhaps answer some burning questions that parents have. Meanwhile, if any parent has any questions about the NIOS, they could write to: Mr. Anil Nair, Coordinator – NIOS (A voluntary post), Trivandrum. His email id is

He has agreed to help us and answer parents’ queries on NIOS through email twice a week. He also has an online group for this.

Parents who can assist you with Board Exams for homeschoolers

Parents who would like to talk to other homeschooling parents (whose kids have given their Board exams) for support, queries and clarifications can contact the parents mentioned below. We would request you to kindly go through the article and links provided in the article and reach out to these parents with very specific queries.

  • Alice and Rajesh Lele
    alice[dot]lele[at]gmail[dot]com; rajesh[dot]lele[at]gmail[dot]com
  • Vineeta Sood
  • Arun Elassery and Kanti
  • Mimi Chakraborty

These lists and the information that you find here are in no way binding or complete. We do hope some of you will be inspired to find out more, take on some research in this area and add value to this article and our own community’s resources.

While there is a whole gamut of boards of education here in our country, the current options for homeschoolers are few. The future though, does hold a lot of hope – for Swashikshan to perhaps provide a platform to join hands and get some of the Boards to be more inclusive; to perhaps co-create an alternative board of education in India; or any other creative solution that could emerge for our kids, as we go along.

Priya Desikan

Priya is a special educator by profession, but a life-learner at heart. She is unschooling her 7 year old son in Chennai since April 2010. She enjoys everything that life has to offer – from music, nature, travel, art, writing, poetry, reading, photography, philosophy, cooking to new-found interests through her son like chess, cricket, Lego, astronomy, gardening and weather-watching! She blogs at my musings.


29 Responses to “Boards and Homeschoolers”

  1. Aravinda February 23, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    Thanks for this detailed article. Could you also mention the fees for each exam? These probably change from year to year, but if you could list the current fees for each option that would also be a useful point of comparison. Thanks.

  2. Tony November 30, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    Thank you for this article. It has started giving me some hope that I can also ‘unschool’ my son. I am completely disgusted with the way education is being channeled by our government, especially in Tamilnadu. Even after so many years we do not have a uniform system, nor enough schools, nor transparency in admissions … and I can go on and on. I am also in Chennai and I take heart that there are others already doing what was just a vague, but persistent, thought in me.

  3. Sohel January 5, 2014 at 2:26 am #

    Thanks for this useful post. What about the options beyond matriculation, i mean entrance tests like PMT, PET etc. Do they allow homeschooled students to appear?

    • R Jain October 11, 2016 at 2:20 am #

      did u get answers?
      How long back was this question posted?
      Kindly guide if u can as i m also facing same questions..

      Great if u could call/misscall me on 9925771877..

    • Navin Pangti October 12, 2016 at 12:47 am #

      eligibility for most entrance exams in india is 10+2 so any homeschoolers who has secondary and senior secondary grades from any of these boards can sit for the exams.

  4. Kiran Jacob January 9, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

    I’m also considering homeschooling but I a little nervous because I’m not sure how to go about it. My kids are 9 and 5 both girls. Please send me any contacts who are in bangalore doing the same.

    • pragya October 12, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

      Hey Kiran
      I homeschool my daughter in Bangalore. Would love to get in touch with you. My mail id is

  5. Nihal June 8, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

    Hello. I’m 17 years old, and due to travelling issues, I’m trying to get homeschooeld. I graduated to grade 11th in CBSE school in Kerala. I’m planning to continue my studies in IGCSE syllabus. I dont know where to register as private candidate or where to take my exams. I also do not know how to do practical exams while I’m home schooled. ANy help would be appreciated. Thank you.

  6. Vidhya July 9, 2015 at 1:46 am #

    My older kids are 5 and 4 years old…they are at grade 1 and UKG levels already. I am searching for ‘homeschoolers in Coimbatore’. We have a moving lifestyle at present; I see the kids long to make friends with homeschooling children too. I personally think it’d be a good idea to keep them encouraged. I know there are many in Bangalore, so much that , they even have an association for the b’lore homeschoolers. Does anyone know about such in CBE?

  7. Syeda AMAYRA Fathima August 3, 2015 at 2:39 am #

    First of all, I would like to thank you for all the information provided.
    Highly appreciate the effort taken to ease the burden of parents looking for information on homeschooling.

    I want to homeschool my daughters who r in grade 7&8.

  8. Biman Roy August 11, 2015 at 1:03 am #

    Problem with NIOS(National Institute of Open Schooling) is that it does not accept student below 14 years. My son is unable to cope up with normal school’s load. I want to register him in NIOS. But he only 10, and has to wait for 4 more years.

    Any suggestion?


    • Nivedita Karnad February 12, 2016 at 6:16 pm #

      When ur son turns proper age for his 10th standard then u give exam thru nios. Till then just buy curriculum vise books frm outside….any newrby books store that provides books to school will give u standard wise books. Anyways it is not allowed in India to give 10th and 12th exqm prior to age…this is to the best of my knowledgedge

    • Omi July 26, 2016 at 12:02 am #

      Have you been able to find any solution of this issue?Do share.
      I have just started to homeschool my little kids and exploring the boards.

  9. Aman January 28, 2016 at 10:44 pm #

    Can home-schooled kids go to UG and PG college in India?

    • Navin Pangti January 30, 2016 at 10:45 pm #

      in the best of our knowledge most indian universities asked for 10+2 so homeschooled children would have to sit for these exams to apply for UG courses.

  10. SHRADHA February 23, 2016 at 3:17 am #

    I am a resident of Bangalore …wanted to do homeschooling for 11th and 12 how to do it … Can I get help regarding this.

  11. Yogini March 14, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

    First of all thank you so much for giving such a comprehensive information about different boards and whether homeschoolers /private candidate are eligible to apply or not.

    My daughter is in CBSE school studying in grade 3. Once she completes her 4th std, I wish to try homeschooling for her till std 8th. and enroll her in school after that depending on her choices by then.

    The best way I could think of is, I should enroll for NIOS OBE

    OBE level B : equivalent to class V and
    OBE level C : equivalent to class VI-VIII

    Now my question is ‘Do CBSE, ICSE, IGCSE allow candidate who has done OBE from NIOS to enrol to their respective secondary exam?”

    Best regards,

  12. meenakshi bakhshi March 29, 2016 at 11:53 am #

    Hi! I’m starting homeschooling for my 7 year old son from this year on. Any parents residing in noida/ Delhi I’ll be keen to get in touch who are following the same.

  13. Paul Jacob March 29, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

    I would like to know about home schooling for Grade 1. I am at Koramangala Bangalore. Please let me know the details.

  14. muhsina May 8, 2016 at 11:30 pm #

    thanks a lot for all the informations given above .i am passed to IX grade n i want to start homeschooling ,till now i studied CBSE and is there any difficulty for changing it to NIOS ? and also could i do that being in another country other than india?

  15. Nishita May 13, 2016 at 9:14 pm #

    I am homeschooling my two kids since last 1 yr in Vadodara, Gujarat. Now we are moving to Pune, I would really appreciate if someone can help me with the homeschooling group there.

  16. harsh mishra May 25, 2016 at 3:31 pm #

    I am a 13 year old home schooler boy and I want to be a doctor . I will apply for admission in medical college next year . so is this possible .

  17. Mohan M June 6, 2016 at 7:25 pm #

    Hi Guyz,

    Home schooling is kind a new concept to me. As am trying to buy in this concept & move my son who is going to class 9 CBSE syllabus. If any of you could provide some accurate info about these concept schools in Bangalore.

    Am reachable @ 9502101231

    you can mail me @

  18. Omi July 26, 2016 at 12:00 am #

    Thank you Priya for this detailed information, however, I would like to know about the Cambridge primary exams homeschoolers parents opting for.As I have not been able to locate any school so far which takes in kids for exams during primary course.
    If any parent has any knowledge about, any school in India which allows kids to take primary exams privately kindly inform.

    • R Jain October 11, 2016 at 2:28 am #

      I am from surat. Do we have homeschools in gujarat? HOw did you manage 10th, 12th and further college admissions?

      When was that?

  19. Sumathi Pradeep August 4, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

    I have been reading about this home schooling a lot in the newspapers off late. Though I have not understood this concept quite well, I see and feel that parents can do a lot more to their child for their holistic development. My Best wishes to all the parents.
    I have been and am still giving complete academic support for school going children at my place in Bangalore for more than two decades. I am a Special Educator for Children with Specific Learning Difficulties and NTT. Any parent who are in need of my services, please feel free to contact at this mail id /

  20. Sarang Bakshi August 12, 2016 at 6:13 am #

    I AM Sarang Bakshi and I have passed and completed my NIOS Xth board examination and passed with 55.8% now currently I am in 12th Std NIOS boards and I will be completing my 12th examination around 2018 so I want to know is NIOS is recognised and accepted in foreign universities and also I want to go abroad to do my

  21. Sanjukta nandi September 23, 2016 at 7:12 pm #

    I am also considering homeschooling for my 10 years old daughter.she is now studying in class four.but i feel to manage everything…..i dont know.i need anybody there in kolkata who is doing the same….plz send their contact no.

  22. Sanjukta nandi September 23, 2016 at 7:19 pm #

    I am thinking about homeschooling for my 10 years old daughter.who is now studying in class four in cbse there anybody in kolkata who is doing the same.plz send me your contact no.i need your help

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