The highest pass percentage in Madhyamik since 1979 — but that’s just half the story. The other half reflects poorly on the state of education in Bengal — the number of students with more than 90 per cent in mathematics and physical science has dropped by 6,024 and 18,942, respectively, from last year.
Teachers attribute the plunge to poor teacher-student ratio, inadequate infrastructure in government-aided schools, especially in rural areas, and the question and marking pattern and the syllabi.
A total of 10,42,714 students wrote Madhyamik this year, around 16,000 more than last year.
Officials of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE), which conducts the Madhyamik examination, said the reasons for the drop in AA graders (90 to 100 per cent) will be known once the results are analysed. “Subject experts will soon analyse the performance of the students. We will know what went wrong only after the analysis,” said Kalyanmoy Ganguly, the board administrator.
Several teachers blamed the school education department for failing to maintain the targetted student-teacher ratio of 30:1 in all subjects. Many schools in rural areas have to make do with a single teacher each in maths and physical science for classes VII-X.
Even in the city, the picture is not too happy. Gopal Nandi, the headmaster of Jodhpur Park Boys’ School, said nearly 17 per cent students had scored 90 per cent and above in aggregate last year but the percentage had dropped this time.
A maths teacher of a reputable English-medium school in south Calcutta said just about 10 students had scored full marks in the subject this year, compared with 21 last year.
Less than 90 per cent in maths and physical science queers the pitch for students seeking admission to a better school in plus-II to equip themselves better for national-level entrance tests.
“Many bright students aspiring to study science seek admission to top schools after Madhyamik,” said a teacher of Hare School. That is because several schools in Calcutta and the districts offer quality education till Class X but the standard of teaching drops at the Higher Secondary level, especially in science.
A student must score at least 90 per cent in aggregate and in science subjects to qualify for admission to the science stream in most of the city’s top HS schools. “Since there are few seats on offer for students of other schools, the cut-off is high,” said the principal of an HS school in south Calcutta.
What makes matters worse is the high number of 90 per cent scorers in ICSE. “Even the lowest-rung ICSE schools in the city boast at least 15 per cent students with 90 per cent or more in physics, chemistry and maths,” said an official of the council that conducts the ICSE examination.
“It’s unfortunate that our students are not getting high grades in scoring subjects like maths and physical science when the number of students scoring 90 per cent and above in ICSE and CBSE is increasing every year,” said a teacher of St. Lawrence High School.
Some teachers blamed the “dated marking pattern” for the decline in the number of high scorers. The Madhyamik board has announced a new curriculum from the 2015-16 session to catch up with ICSE and CBSE.