More than 2.25 lakh or 32.43 per cent students who opted for Sanskrit failed to in the subject in the Class X board exam this year, the worst performance in the last 15 years.
A total of 10.46 lakh students had appeared in the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board exam in March, of which 6,94,765 opted for Sanskrit as one of the main subjects. The state government has been promoting the language for years and also set up its own Sanskrit University.
According to the records available with the GSHSEB, the pass percentage of 67.57 in Sanskrit turns out to be the lowest in 15 years, given that the success rate in subject has always been over 90 per cent, except for 2004 when it dipped to 82.41 per cent. The highest was in 2010, when 95.67 per cent students who opted for it passed the exam.
Besides the education department, several educationists and Sanskrit scholars have raised concerns over the poor exam results. The members of the drafting committee for the new education policy have also started “brainstorming” on the reasons for the poor results.
“This was one of the major concerns recently raised during meeting on the National Education Policy this month. How can we promote a language which has the lowest pass percentage in Class X. Also, if this continues, how will seats in the Sanskrit University and colleges get filled,” said a senior education official.
Though the reasons cited by the GSHSEB was change in the textbook pattern, the curriculum framing committee claimed that it was due to the importance given to Science, Mathematics and English over Sanskrit both by parents and teachers.
“The Class IX Sanskrit textbooks were changed in 2013 and Class X in the year 2014. Though the curriculum was not changed much, the pattern was changed that resulted in higher difficulty levels,” said M M Pathan, Class X GSHSEB’s officer on special duty.
Narendra Raval, review committee member of Gujarat State School Textbooks Board (GSSTB), however, said, “The revised curriculum does not have major changes except that now it has become objective oriented than competency based. For instance, now stress is on communicative form with inclusion of a more utility based content than historical references. Students are taught with reference to present environment using common words and phrases.”
Raval clarified, “The difficulty levels of curriculum has been reduced especially the grammar part. The content has been framed keeping in mind the interest levels of students as well.”
“It is lack of teachers’ training to teach Sanskrit and priority given to other subjects like Science, Mathematics and English has resulted in students losing interest and thus marks in the language,” he added.
Similar concerns were raised by Vice-Chancellor of Somnath Sanskrit University Prof Ark Nath Chaudhary. “People believe that this is a class or community specific language limiting to those performing rituals. It will take some time for people, especially in Gujarat that it is equally important like English and Computer Science,” said Prof Chaudhary.
Stressing on the need for teachers to bring in a change in their perspective, Sukumar Trivedi, a Sanskrit teacher for Class IX and X at Rajasthan Hindi Higher Secondary School in Ahmedabad, said, “Students need guidance and teachers need to change their pessimistic attitude towards the subject. They just enter the class teach the language in a mundane and non interesting manner.”
The two-day Gujarat state-wide ‘Sanskrit Adhiveshan’ organised by the RSS-supported trust Samskrita Bharati in Gandhinagar on Thursday too reflected similar concerns.