This year, in the CBSE Class 10 board examination, Chandigarh’s pass percentage at 66.21 was the lowest in the region and the worst in the Tricity. In Class 10, 17,873 students appeared for the examination, of whom 6,039 (33.79 per cent) students could not pass the exam.
Although the pass percentage was better in Class 12 at 79.35, as many as 4,072 students could not clear the exam.
While the toppers are celebrated, how does the system deal with those who fail?
“When the year ends and the results come out, children who have failed cannot forgive themselves because they feel like they’ve let their parents down,” said Dr Chand Trehan, who sits on the national CBSE counselling helpline.
“The CBSE has made counselling mandatory, but it does not have a separate mechanism for students who fail. Schools should own the responsibility to hold parent counselling sessions and help these kids come out of failure. It’s difficult to motivate them; even if they can, they think that they cannot pass their exams,” she added.
A government school student said, “I never expected to get a compartment in accountancy. My paper went well. Though I’ve been an average student, I was never failing in any subject.”
The student added that she was not yet attending the remedial classes as she had to help her mother with household work. Her father is a labourer and she has two younger siblings, both of whom will sit the board examination next year.
“Teachers were always helpful and cleared my queries. So, I cannot understand why this happened. I will work harder to clear my paper. I want to study BCom and become a chartered accountant,” she said.
Teachers of government schools, on the other hand, are up in arms against the education department for issuing show-cause notices to them for negative results of Classes 10 and 12. They have been asked to hold remedial classes for students with compartment over the summer break for 15 days.
A local counsellor, who did not want to be named, asserts that teachers in private schools are strictly monitored, but there is no such system in government schools. “I don’t think they are empathetic enough towards students, especially those who don’t concentrate in class. They are already frustrated because of the extra workload, so the students suffer the resulting apathy,” the counsellor added.
Dr Trehan maintains teachers in government schools just want to finish the syllabus. The child is an object, so even teachers should be groomed and counselled. Teachers say students have taken studies for granted because of the no-detention policy and parents too do not care for their wards. However, in periphery schools where students come from working class backgrounds, the parents too are illiterate.
“Parents are least bothered about what their child is doing in the school. Some parents just send their children to school so that they don’t create a nuisance back home,” said Anuradha Singh, head in-charge of GMSH-25 that has a pass percentage of 19.35 in Class 10.
She added, “Then there are students who want to study but don’t get that kind of an environment at home. There are cases where the father is a drunk or the mother has passed away. Some students have to support parents financially, so they work the whole night and sleep in class.”
However, most students who have failed summon up the courage to move on. “I have just started learning music at Pracheen Kala Kendra. I want to be a singer and my parents support me as they feel I’m focused on this,” said a Class 10 student from a government school who got compartment in science. His father irons clothes for a living and mother is a homemaker.
Dr Trehan says students in government schools do not get proper counselling. In most cases, schools appoint those who have completed their masters in psychology. These counsellors do not have professional skills for the job.
“We have formed a body called Bharatiya Counselling Psychology Association that wants to train psychology students in counselling skills. It’s shocking to know that even the best private schools don’t have professional counsellors,” she adds.