The Bombay High Court on Monday asked educational boards to consider mathematics an optional subject for Class X students so that they can pursue subjects of their choice that do not require knowledge of mathematics. The court said the number of dropouts after tenth standard could also be reduced if mathematics was made optional.
A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice A K Menon was hearing a petition filed by psychiatrist Harish Shetty on the issue of students coping with learning disabilities in schools and the support and learning aids provided by various educational boards to help such students. The court was being informed about various aspects and subjects that can be included and done away with in special schools when the bench gave its suggestion on mathematics.
“Majority of students drop out after Class 10 as they are unable to clear mathematics and language papers. Till about a few years ago, Sanskrit was an option to mathematics in state board and students were allowed to apply for degree courses even if they had passed other subjects without considering mathematics. We could consider reverting to this system,” said Justice Kanade.
According to data availed from the state education department, the overall dropout rate in secondary schools during the academic year 2015-16 rose to 12.44 per cent from 11 per cent a year before. In Maharashtra, only two out of 10 children in Class V can do division, found the non-governmental organisation Pratham in its Annual Status of Education Report (ASER).
The ASER further found that 12.9 per cent students from Class V knew numbers till 9 but not till 99, highlighting the poor performance of school children in mathematics. Of the children surveyed, 2.7 per cent could not recognise numbers till 9. In 2016, only 47 per cent children enrolled in Class V of a government school could do subtraction. The bench has asked the education boards to take suggestions from experts on this and respond by July 26.