A+ SLC Result And New Problems
This year’s results of the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exams are no doubt outstanding, or A+. Nearly 97 per cent of the students who appeared in the SLC exams under the regular category have scored the necessary grade to be eligible to get enrolled in Class 11. It means 97 per cent have passed the SLC exams this year in sharp contrast to the SLC pass percentage of 47.43 of last year. According to the results published, out of the 437,326 regular SLC students, 425,580 scored a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 1.6. The minimum GPA needed for getting enrolled in Class 11 is 1.6.
Does this mean we have improved the education system so overwhelmingly overnight? No. It is all because of the grading system and eligible criterion set for enrolment in Grade 11. If a student scored less than 32 in any subject, he/she would be termed ‘failed’ until last year, but now even if a student scores less than that mark in one subject but better marks in others and thus maintains the necessary GPA, she/he is considered ‘passed’.
But, on the side of this tricky bright ray there is another and greater darker side of this result and the new school education system. Even this year, when we put the regular and exempted categories together, 588,152 students had appeared in the SLC exams. Of them, 105,154 scored less than 1.6 GPA and thus ‘failed’ because they are not eligible to get enrolled in Grade 11 until they sit for another exam and improve their grade. It means only 82.12 per cent of the total SLC examinees got through the national level examination at the school level.
Of course, even those who got less than 1.6 GPA can get a technical education or training through the Centre for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT). However, with the latest amendment in the Education Act by Parliament, school education means up to Grade 12, and in this sense, this SLC exam was the last of its kind, ending the 83-year-old practice.
If we calculate the number of students under the regular category who passed with better grades (A+ to B), we find that 169, 823 students passed the exam with what was known before as ‘first division’. About 198,894 students got either ‘second or pass division’ (C or C+). This calculation makes it clear that the number of students scoring C or C+ grades is greater than those scoring A+ to B grades. Now, given the past records, we can easily conclude that most of those scoring lower grades come from community or government schools.
It means the old problem persists. But there are now new problems as well. As per the new system, the school education is now divided into two categories: basic education (Grades 1-8) and secondary education (8-12). Owing to this, there will be either basic education or secondary education schools. It means those schools which ran classes up to Grade 10 should now either upgrade their school to run up to Grade 12 or run classes up to only Class 8.
As the number of students in private or institutional schools is increasing year by year it is most likely that private schools will upgrade themselves while most community or government schools will cut down on their classes. The present scenario is such that parents prefer to send their wards to pursue higher education in urban areas and in private higher secondary schools or colleges even if their children may have passed the SLC from a community school. This is so because private schools are performing better than the government ones.
Now, it is most likely that parents will start sending their children to urban areas or private schools even for secondary education after their children pass Class 8 or the district level exams. Such a situation will force many community secondary schools to either merge or scale down the schools owing to the few number of students.
In fact, many community schools have already been merged due to lack of students. In that situation, most students will pass their SLC (Class 12) from private schools, and the government, which claims that government schools serve more than 80 per cent of the students despite various shortcomings, will have nothing to claim. And that will question the government education system as well as the provision of free and compulsory secondary education. The state will, thus, be relieved of its obligation to ensure fulfillment of one of the fundamental rights!
Moreover, even those community schools which are running classes up to 12 or will run them will be unable to perform at par with their private counterparts because the government has introduced the system but not arranged for teachers and other similar human as well as physical resources for the community schools.
The recent policy decision that bars private schools from operating like a private company is a good one. But the question is, are we allocating sufficient budget, monitoring the schools, holding teachers accountable for improving the community schools? It is one thing to discourage opening of private schools but quite another to prevent a situation that encourages the opening of such schools.
Everybody knows that private schools are fleecing the parents in the name of good education. But it seems there is nobody to change this exploitative education system and ensure pride among parents to send their children to community schools. Everything in the country is influenced by the political parties because they make the decisions and laws, and most teachers are aligned to their professional organisations. If teachers are held accountable for students’ performance, half the problems would be solved. But are the parties ready for such a policy decision?
Moreover, are they ready to stop further ‘privatisation’ of school education? If so, this change in the evaluation system or introduction of the grading system is nothing because we have to change the input system itself not only the evaluation of the output.