After a gap of five years, physical education is set to make a comeback as a compulsory subject in the Madhyamik syllabus from the next academic session.
The proposal for re-introducing the subject at the secondary level has been recommended by a 13-member school education committee, headed by Ranjugopal Mukherjee, former vice-chancellor of North Bengal University. The committee will submit its report to the government in the first week of January.
The state government had set up the committee in September 2001 to introduce steps to revamp the curricula, beginning from the pre-primary to the Higher Secondary level. Sources said the committee members came to the decision after conducting a comparative study of the school syllabi taught in Bengal and those in other states.
“We found physical education important enough to be brought back to the Madhyamik syllabus. Almost all the examination boards in the country have it as a compulsory subject at the secondary level,” said one of the committee members on Saturday.
Till 1998, a compulsory paper on physical education combined with work education, carrying a total of 100 marks, was taught to students between Classes VI and X under the Madhyamik Board. From 1998 onwards, the subject was offered as an optional paper to students of Classes IX and X.
Sources, however, added that if the subject was to be re-introduced, students would be awarded grades instead of marks.
The committee has recommended to the government to replace the system of awarding marks for physical education in order to ensure impartial evaluation by teachers.
Earlier, the Madhyamik Board had decided to do away with the paper from its curriculum after noticing certain irregularities in awarding of marks by teachers of schools.
For example, most students, who appeared for Madhyamik, were found to have scored abnormally high marks in physical education even though their performance in other subjects was poor.
“This helped below-average students in getting a higher percentage. We had no option but to take out the subject from the syllabus,” said an official of the education department.
Before excluding the subject from its curriculum, the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education had made several futile attempts to stop the malpractice and had even warned the authorities of several schools.