Different education boards creating havoc and heartburn
The 85 and 90 percent scorers are not getting admission into “good” junior colleges because of the revised admission system (percentiles being taken into account across various boards rather than actual percentages) and this has resulted in a lot of heartburn amongst students.
The Maharashtra government introduced the percentile system to right a wrong but their method could well boomerang on the SSC students (SSC is the Maharashtra State Education board for the 10th grade).
It’s an established fact that ICSE and CBSE students (central government boards for 10th grade) get more marks and thus corner most of the seats in the best junior colleges in Maharashtra (In Maharashtra 11th and 12th grade is usually at college).
The ICSC students believe that their course is better than that of SSC and of a higher standard, and thus they deserve getting most of the seats in top colleges. They also believe that the percentile system is unfair.
The SSC students believe that they are marked strictly, one of the reasons being that they have to study three languages instead of two…and language papers are not scoring.
(Here is a link which tabulates briefly the various attributes of the three boards mentioned above. The comparison is by no means comprehensive, but I couldn’t find anything more authoritative.)
The SSC students have lived with the ignominy of being “SSC” students for some time now (in the eyes of ICSC and CBSE students and some educationists as well) and the Maharashtra education board has done nothing about it…instead they have sat back and allowed their students to languish in the “not so good” colleges for years. I am putting “good” colleges into inverted commas as many a time I doubt that these are the “best” colleges. Suffice to say that they are colleges in which everyone wants admission.
This academic year the Maharashtra government suddenly woke up and wanted to normalise marks to create a more equitable system. They hastily implemented the percentile system. The result? Chaos. ICSC students are panicking as their toppers, who usually had no problem securing admissions to the ‘best” colleges, are now forced to look at alternatives. The rush to get admissions has resulted in reports that students and parents are under tremendous tension because of unavailibility of seats and some are going to counselors. On the other hand, SSC students are relieved because for the first time SSC toppers are finding a place in the top colleges.
Expectedly, the courts are being called in to end the confusion, the heart burn and the blame game.
The other side of the coin
I think its important to see the issue holistically. I don’t want to get into the merits or demerits of the percentile system because I am not an educationist, and more importantly…the matter is being heard by the courts. In fact the courts have suggested an alternative “reservation” system for SSC students instead of the percentile system but I am sure no one is going to like this either.
And that’s not what I want to get into…I simply want to point out that if the syllabus of the SSC students is different or inferior in some way, it’s not their fault. If they do not study in ICSC schools, it’s not their fault. In fact SSC students are mostly from middle class families and often cannot afford ICSE schools which often charge higher fees.
The majority of students in the state study SSC, and its usually the upper classes and/or those who shift cities frequently who put their children in ICSE schools. If the merit lists of the top colleges are mostly filled up by the ICSE and CBSC board students who make up a minority of those who pass out of the 10th standard, does that sound like an equitable system? Something is seriously wrong.
What I find disgusting is the way mainstream newspapers are going on and on about the injustice to ICSC students. I wonder if they have given a thought to the thousands of bright SSC toppers who have been denied admission into the “top” colleges year after year?
No one is disagreeing with the fact that ICSE and CBSC syllabus is more comprehensive, but the issue here is that of marks, not syllabus. The SSC students are being denied admission because of their marks, not because of their syllabus. The fact of the matter is, no matter how hard a SSC student tries he/she cannot get past a marks barrier (especially in the language papers) as it has been a tradition to be stingy with marks.
Standardise school education!!
Those against the percentile system say that let SSC be more lenient with marks! Improve the SSC syIlabus! But scrap the percentile system.
But even if these things are done, the different boards will remain different. I don’t know why they have to have so many different boards in the first place. There are so many state boards that it always creates confusion. Surely, our country needs to standardise school education? One keeps hearing of changes and improvements taking place within the boards, but I don’t hear of any plan to standardize education across India…I wonder why such a plan isn’t on the anvil.
So what is the solution to this problem? I cannot answer this question because it is possible that the normalisation being implemented by the Maharashtra government is incorrect. The courts and the educationists will decide that.
Having been a priviliged ICSC student myself I can sympathise with the plight of ICSC students who have studied long hours and whose dreams now seem to be shattered. I can also sympathise with those bright SSC students, few of whom can score 98 percent in their 10th grade…but are nevertheless bright and hardworking, who have been relegated to unknown colleges for years now.
If a solution has to be found, it has to ensure that good students from all boards and all classes of society get an equal opportunity to study in top colleges.
I don’t know how the government is going to solve this equitably, but they should do it fast because people’s careers are at stake.
(Photos are stock photos taken by me and copyrighted)
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