The number of students in Delhi government schools opting for mathematics in class XI and XII has dropped considerably in the last nine years — from 27.6% of the total number of students in 2010-2011 to 15.2% in 2018-2019.
On Monday, The Indian Express had reported that close to 73% students in the current class X batch in these schools have opted for ‘basic mathematics’ — the option to write a simpler mathematics paper in the upcoming board examinations for those who do not want to take up the subject in class XI and XII. Those who opt for the paper cannot take up mathematics as a subject in class XI and XII. However, those who change their mind may write the standard mathematics paper in the compartment examination.
Data analysed by The Indian Express shows that a small percentage of Delhi government school students opt for mathematics at the higher secondary level — most recently, of 1,29,917 who wrote the 2019 CBSE Class XII board exam, only 19,718 had opted for mathematics.
There has also been a downward trend in the number of students from these schools opting for the subject at this level over the years. It hit its lowest in 2016-2017, when 11.57% of students taking the Class XII exam had opted for maths. The numbers increased to 17% in 2017-2018 and dropped to 15.2% in 2018-2019.
According to heads of these schools, the general pattern at the time that students select their subjects for class XI and XII is that the humanities section fills up first, followed by commerce without mathematics. While commerce with mathematics and ‘medical science’ or science without mathematics have fewer takers, science with mathematics have the fewest.
In fact, this year, the government’s education department struggled to fill its science seats in class XI, even though the science stream is offered in very few of its schools — something officials have attributed to the low numbers of students who want to study mathematics. Of the 1,030 schools run by the government, only 294 offer science at the senior secondary level.
However, this August, the education department sent a circular to heads of schools: “It has been observed that in some of the schools, science section of class 11 has less than 40 students (sanctioned strength). In order to address the situation, all heads of government schools under DoE are directed to encourage and motivate the eligible students to opt for science stream in class 11.”
The principal of a school attributed the low numbers to the poor standard of teaching maths and science at the senior secondary level. “Many senior secondary teaching positions are filled on the basis of promotion of those who were earlier qualified to teach from class VI to X and did an MSc 20 years ago. More than 80% of those teaching physics and maths in XI and XII are not competent. One 10-day-long SCERT seminar is not enough to bring them up to standard. Students learn from the experience of their seniors and don’t make that choice,” the principal said.
He also suggested that the fall in numbers of those opting for mathematics could be linked to the rise in popularity of B.Com Pass programmes, which do not require mathematics.