While some teachers are blaming the scrapping of oral and internal assessment for languages and social sciences in SSC exams as the reason for the drastic fall in the pass percentage in these subjects, others say teachers did not prepare the students well for the changes in the examination.In Mumbai Division, a total of 3,57,055 students appeared for the exam. The highest number of students — 1,67,727 — had English as their first language; the next highest number of 1,32,117 students had Marathi as their first language. The pass percentage for English as first language fell from 97.86 to 90.99. For those who opted for Marathi as the first language, the percentage dropped from 90.96 to 78.42. Even those who opted for Marathi as their second and third language, the pass per cent dropped from 93.06 to 84.55.
“Going by the overall paper pattern, the marks in language should have increased. My observation of the English paper is that students were not made to understand what was expected of them while attempting the activity sheet — fill in the blank, preparation of table, chart, transfer of information kind of questions. Maybe the teachers have failed to convey what was required in solving such questions. For all these years, we have focused on content than language skills. Children have a problem solving comprehension passages. The teaching methodology needs to change in order to help children form their opinion, as well as thinking and mental ability. The drop is not due to scrapping of orals,” said former convenor of Board of Studies for English Dr Umesh Pradhan.
The languages papers were designed to be easy, said former chairman of State Board Vasant Kalpande. “The paper pattern was not difficult. In my view, there was lack of understanding in the student about tackling the content and pattern of the questions. Lack of a visual image of the question paper can be one reason. The papers this year were less theoretical,” he added.
However, Uday Nare, Marathi teacher at Hansraj Morarji Public School, said that students were left to grapple with too many components including letter, essay, reports and story writing in the language papers, he said. “The Marathi paper saw the highest number of students failing at 22 per cent. Till eighth standard, students appear for a 50-mark Marathi paper. And suddenly, they were asked to appear for a 100-mark three-hour paper, when until last year, the three-hour paper was for 80 marks. We had requested board to increase the time duration for 100 marks, but it was not accepted,” said Nare.
There has been a nearly seven per cent drop in the pass per cent for English language, from 97.86 to 90.99. In Social Sciences, the per cent dropped from 96.28 to 88.80. “The vocabulary development of most students is not up to the mark. They are used to having 50 mark internals. In the revised paper, much emphasis was on creative writing. Earlier, they would be given points on which they could build their narrative but those points were not given in the revised syllabus,” said Govindharajan S, an English and Social Sciences teacher.
Speaking of Social Sciences, he said, the paper was made more objective. “You either score full marks or you lose. The scope for a child to write was reduced. We know that in a state of euphoria, children often write incorrect answers. The idea of “concept map”, where one has to write answers based on rote learning, is also tricky. Moreover, for the four sets of match the column, students had to identify wrong pair and write the correct answer, which requires a lot of reading.”
Meanwhile, political outfits have seized the issue as part of the blame game. Yuva Sena member Sainath Durge has stated that the issue of SSC results will be followed up and discussed during the monsoon session. “We knew this would happen and had staged a protest outside board office in Pune on January 31. But authorities did not pay heed. There has been a 20 per cent decline in BMC schools result, more than 40 per cent students have failed. In comparison to other boards, SSC board has many students from poor background and this kind of result ensures they don’t seek higher education,” he said.
Member of NCP Dhananjay Munde said he is seeking an appointment with him over the issue. “We will also take up the issue in the Assembly. This decision to scrap internal marks seems like a financial conspiracy by the minister,” he said.