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A slight change in a government resolution — on institutions that are qualified to award up to 25 extra marks to Class X students under the classical and folk arts quota — may have far-reaching implications, according to many educationists. They believe that a larger number of students would be able to benefit from extra marks granted under the quota.
From this year, students excelling in classical art, drawing and folk art can avail of 10-25 extra marks in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exam. In January, the government had issued a GR, laying out the conditions for institutions which would be recognised as eligible to give the extra marks. One of the conditions was that the institution should be at least 10 years old.
In a recent notification, the state education department has said that institutions that are five years old will also be able to award extra marks.
According to the GR, students who are studying classical arts and pass three exams under institutions recognised by the department will get 10 extra marks, while passing five exams will entail 15 extra marks. While most agree that the introduction of this quota would be beneficial for SSC students, some caution that relaxing the stringent conditions could lead to the proliferation of such institutions.
“It is good that the state education department decided to introduce this quota and it will benefit the students. I personally don’t place too much importance on Class X exam marks, as I feel that these grades are only important to get admission to Class XI. But yes, there should be stringent conditions for recognising institutions that can award these extra marks,” said Vasant Kalpande, former chairman of the Maharashtra state board.
School principals, however, are apprehensive that the decision may pave the way for private organisations making a profit from offering such courses. “When the criteria is stringent — like a minimum of 10 years necessary for the institution to be recognised — that means the organisation will have some background… if the criteria is made easier, then even newer organisations, like people who have been running dance or singing schools for five years, can participate. Their condition is that the organisation should be registered with the charity commissioner and have records of three years… but one newspaper report recently showed how registering with the charity commissioner’s office is no big deal. Instead of making the criteria more stringent, they are relaxing it, which will pave the way for scores of new institutions to qualify,” said Pramod Nemade, joint secretary of the state School Principals’ Association.
However, some school principals feel that the criteria being relaxed isn’t the only area of concern. “The criteria of 10 years was also decided by them and then they relaxed it, so… it’s all very arbitrary… what’s more important is why this was introduced and how it will impact non-state board students. Of course, one can argue… that such a step would benefit state board students and encourage them to take up skills which are often neglected. But this would give them an edge over their non-state board counterparts, who have no such provision for extra marks. Naturally, less experience required means more such organisations qualify, so more students get the advantage,” said Anveet Pathak, director of Millennium School.