Looking beyond HSLC
The HSLC examition results this year should provide much food for thought to our education planners. The 62.79 pass percentage is margilly better than last year’s 62.2 percent, but that offers scarcely any comfort. There has been a downward drift from 2013 when 70.71 percent examinees cleared this exam. With nearly 1.42 lakh students failing in their first board exams and bleak prospects for 1-1.5 lakh students placed in third and lower second divisions, the State school education system continues to suffer from significant wastage of human resource. It is not fair to bracket the SEBA with the CBSE or compare their class 10 results; besides, the CBSE class 10 examition has also been optiol since 2011 under its comprehensive and continuous evaluation (CCE) system. But it will do well to keep in mind that the pass rate of Guwahati region in CBSE class 10 examitions this year is 83.79 percent; in fact, other regions did much better to take the overall pass percentage for the country to 96.21 percent. The reason why CBSE results for class 10 and 12 need to be followed closely is that the central board sets the benchmark for countrywide entrance tests to various undergraduate courses. Some states including Assam have got a breather from the CBSE-conducted pre-medical test NEET this year. But this window will close next year, so class 12 students under Assam Higher Secondary Educatiol Council (AHSEC) must be brought up to the CBSE level. First and foremost, this will require upgrading our higher secondary syllabus textbooks on a war footing. It remains to be seen whether the State Education department under its new minister takes up this challenge in right earnest. The performance of our students in SEBA class 10 and AHSEC class 12 examitions together need to be kept in mind when taking on the CBSE challenge.
The HSLC results generate much enthusiasm across the State, and rightly so — despite the SEBA slipping up badly over the years, and scurrying to make amends this year too after 12 thousand answer scripts were gutted in fire at an evaluation centre in Jorhat. The HSLC remains the only examition where students from poor families and far-flung areas can make their mark, with sheer talent, work ethic and that winning spark. But the going gets tougher in the next two years of higher secondary education. Students move into a practically new system under a different board; it gets costlier if they opt for intensive coaching. Had this transition been seamless, considerable disappointment could have been avoided in class 12 fils. When students targeting pre-medical, pre-engineering and other tiol level tests need 3-4 years of rigorous coaching, the responsibility is on our education planners to take this reality into account and design proper syllabi to link up class 10 and class 12 exams. The HSLC results this year sends out the message loud and clear — that the State government must not surreptitiously withdraw from school education to leave it at the mercy of private groups. It is also heartening that vercular medium schools have given a good account of themselves. As many as 101 students in the top 20 rank-holders list are from schools teaching in mother tongue; the fact that 32 of them hailed from government schools show that all is not lost. Over the years, a palpable sense of despondency has been clouding government schools, as guardians took their wards elsewhere. If the Central government can back Kendriya vidyalayas and Jawahar vodaya vidyalayas to the hilt against their private counterparts, there is no reason why the Assam government cannot position some of its schools as standard bearers of excellence. With vision and will, it can be done. After all, some private groups have made successful models of their Assamese medium schools. The Sankardev Sishu Vidya Niketan group has put 39 of its students in the top-20 list this year, while the Asom Jatiya Vidyalaya in Guwahati has kept up its good show with five rank-holders. HSLC 2016 topper and Sankardev Vidya Niketan product Sarfaraz Hussain, coming from a humble background, said it best for students of similar circumstances that ‘education is the only means to change their lives for a better future’. This is the fundamental need that the State government cannot afford to ignore.