IF THE ongoing confusion over replacing the science, mathematics and English Class X textbooks of Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training (GCERT) with those of National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) on a pilot basis was not enough, the Gujarat Education Department is all set to introduce the NCERT textbooks of the two subjects — maths and science — from Class I to Class XI in all the 58,000 schools across the state from the next academic session.
By doing so, the Education Department has set aside its earlier decision to introduce NCERT books in a phased manner in all the schools affiliated to Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB). Earlier, it was decided to introduce the NCERT books in only two to three classes every year, thereby completely replacing GCERT textbooks in all the classes from I to XII by 2020.
The Education Department’s decision is set to impact nearly 1.15 crore students enrolled between Class I and XI in 43,000 government schools and 15,000 private schools affiliated to the GSHSEB. “Since these subjects (mathematics and science) are relevant in view of the national entrance examinations like Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), it makes sense to replace the GCERT textbooks with the Central board,” Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSSTB) chairman Nitin Pethani said justifying the Education Department’s decision.
The talk of replacing the GCERT textbooks with those of NCERT began a few years ago following dismal results of students from Gujarat in the national entrance examinations. The Education department then decided to introduce the NCERT textbooks of mathematics and science in a phased-manner, beginning 2016-17 academic year from Class IX.
The NCERT textbooks of the two subjects were introduced in 57 schools — government and private included — across 11 districts of the state. However, this year, when the same batch of students, a total of 5,896, appeared for their Class X board exams this March, there were confusions galore.
To begin with, the state education board (GSHSEB) had to conduct four different exams for over 10.5 lakh students of the state board for each of the two subjects — mathematics and science.
- First for the majority of the 8 lakh students who took the test based on GCERT textbooks and on GSHSEB pattern, which follows 50:50 subjective and objective questions.
- The second group of students were those who were repeating the board exams and their questions were based on old GSHSEB syllabus. They numbered around 2.5 lakh
- The third group comprised those students who took test based on NCERT books, but on the GSHSEB pattern, which is 50:50 subjective and objective questions.The number of such students were 3,796 out of the 5,896 who opted for the NCERT textbooks.
- The fourth and the final group of students comprised those remaining 2,100 students of the 5,896, who took the test based on NCERT textbooks but on the CBSE pattern where 80 per cent of marks are based external or board exam and 20 per cent on internal school exams.
“Out of all the 11 districts where the pilot scheme was launched, 21 schools in Surat district had requested for the CBSE pattern exam. The remaining 36 schools wanted the GSHSEB exam pattern but based on NCERT syllabus. Since it was a pilot scheme with no conditions attached, the state education board had accepted their requests,” said GSHSEB Chairman A J Shah.
Such multiplicity of exams not only led to confusion in conducting the exams, but also in teaching. “Certainly, there was confusion in teaching. The school staff had to go through several sample question papers to understand the format. As this year the school had conducted Class IX exams on NCERT pattern, once the school exams get over on April 16, we will approach the GSHSEB authorities to request for CBSE-based Class X exam,” said Narendra R Jha, principal of C L Hindi High School. The school in Ahmedabad’s Rakhial area, the only Hindi medium school to be a part of the pilot scheme.
For others, it is not clear how the transition would help them in competing in the national entrance exams.
“Our students took GSHSEB pattern exams on NCERT syllabus as the government has declared that all admissions will be based on national examinations which follow the NCERT curriculum. But students in Gujarat think that they have not studied what others have, and therefore they are in some way lacking somewhere,” said Neerav Thakkar, principal of A G High School in Navrangpura in Ahmedabad where 180 students appeared for Class X board examinations this year.
With the exams now over, the challenge is for the state education board to streamline the evaluation process.
“Due to such multiplicity of syllabus and patterns, the marks of CBSE exam pattern will be equalised with the state board to bring them at par,” said M A Pathan, GSHSEB Officer on Special Duty.
Already, with a perennial shortage of evaluators, the GSHSEB had to hunt for teachers to evaluate all these different sets of answer-sheets. “With limited resources, the evaluation is a tedious work. This year, it was difficult for us as it took us more time, efforts and resources in conducting Class X exams,” Pathan added.