Pupils in the UAE have scored among the highest globally in the Indian School Certificate examinations — with one placing second worldwide.
Aakanksha Rai, a grade 12 pupil at Gems Modern Academy, claimed the second highest spot by scoring 99.25 per cent in her exams. She earned 100 per cent in physics, chemistry, mathematics and computer science and 97 per cent in English.
“This year we have a world topper in ISC despite having the largest cohort ever,” said Nargish Khambatta, principal and chief executive officer of Gems Modern Academy.
"It is heartening to note that our top academic achievers are also all-rounders, finding the right balance between their focus on academics and their extra-curricular pursuits.”
For Aakanksha, juggling college applications with studies while indulging in hobbies was a challenge.
“I really enjoy swimming and playing guitar so that’s what I did when I was on a break,” she said.
“I kept motivating myself by thinking of my goal of studying in Singapore.”
The pupil is hoping to pursue higher studies in computer science at National University of Singapore.
“They have one of the best computer science courses in Asia,” she said.
The Council for the Indian School Certificate curriculum is followed by three schools in Dubai and one in Sharjah. It one of the two central Indian curriculums used in schools. The Indian Certificate of Secondary Education exam is held in grade 10 and the Indian School Certificate test in grade 12.
Another top scorer at the same school was Arisma Arora. She earned an average of 99.2 per cent in the ICSE exams.
Arisma wants to study medicine and specialise in gynaecology at a university in the UK.
She plays the violin in the school’s orchestra, is part of the debate team and was simultaneously able to score perfect marks in mathematics, computers and social studies.
Some 146 Gems Modern Academy pupils sat the ISC exam this year, earning a batch average of 88.8 per cent. A further 233 sat the ICSE (Grade 10) exam, earning a batch average was 88.8 per cent — a 2.4 per cent increase on the 2017 result.
This year, pupils were encouraged to ease off the pressure of academics and pursue education holistically.
Lata Nakra, principal of JSS International School in Dubai, said the school changed its approach to board exams and is instead focusing on ensuring that pupils remain calm. Engaging in mindfulness, meditation and relaxation exercises has become part of everyday school life.
Some 62 JSSIS pupils sat the ICSE exams with Gayathri Girish scoring the highest of her peers with 96.6 per cent.
One of the pupils, Harshi Kabra in Grade 10 scored 99 out of 100 in art making her the UAE topper in the subject.
“We have been mindful about not putting undue pressure on the pupils. We are taking active steps and have regular counselling as well as meditation and mindfulness sessions at the beginning of the day,” said Ms Nakra.
Last year, teachers had to counsel pupils who suffered from mounting pressure as exams loomed. The school’s efforts in the past year have ensured that the pupils feel calm while appearing for the exam.
Ms Sheela Menon, principal of Ambassador School in Dubai said, “Young Ambassadors have emerged as winners in Indian curriculum ICSE and ISC examinations, with each batch outperforming the previous one. The consistency in results validate the commitment and hard work of students, dedication of teachers and partnering of parents.”
Ritika Ramesh was the highest scoring pupil of her school with an average score of 97 per cent.
According to The Times of India, Swayam Das from Mumbai is the highest ICSE scorer in India, having earned 99.4 per cent. Seven pupils drew first place with 99.5 per cent in the ISC exam.