Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) is looking to shed some weight. The board has decided to remove subjects that have few takers from the SSC-HSC exams from next year. A proposal in this regard has been sent to the state government and is in the final stages of approval.
According to MSBSHSE, second and third language subjects like Russian, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam have consistently received unflattering response from class X and class XII students across the state over the past many years. That’s why the board has finally decided to shut the doors on these courses.
“No other state board, or even national board including CBSE, has so many subject options, which MSBSHSE currently provides students. But some courses are not very popular. That’s why we have sent a proposal to the state government to skip certain subjects, which will ultimately curtail the overall duration of board exams,” said Sarjerao Jadhav, chairperson of MSBSHSE.
For instance, this year only five students from across the state appeared for the Kannada paper in the class X exam. And while three students turned up for Telugu in SSC, only one had chosen Malayalam. Similar is the situation with some of the foreign languages. Only two examinees in the state had chosen Russian language for std X.
“When the number of students selecting a particular subject does not even get into double digits, it is very difficult to run the whole process of setting papers and conducting exams. When a single student appears for a certain subject, maintaining his or her anonymity and even conducting re-evaluation is tough,” told Krishnakumar Patil, secretary of MSBSHSE.
According to set procedures, while preparing the timetable, the state board has to maintain a gap of a few days between two papers. Apart from this, MSBSHSE also has to publish four sets of question papers fro every subject to avert malpractices. Carrying out these responsibilities for subjects that only have a handful of candidates is a tiresome exercise, said sources.
“I have been part of the paper-setting team for board exams. I know how tiresome an exercise it is. So, if the state board is planning to curtail some of the subjects based on consistently low number of students appearing for the examinations, it is the right step,” said Gayatri Gumaste, a teacher of Sanskrit, Marathi and German.
Dr Durga Dixit, director of Aikyabharati Research Institute, had a different opinion. “If some subjects, especially Indian languages, are getting a poor response from schools, it’s the responsibility of the state board to promote them rather than shutting them down. Languages are the only source to understand the culture of various states and to nurture national integrity,” he said.
“Every child should ideally learn his or her mother tongue. On the other hand, migration has also increased in the past years. So closing down the option for studying other Indian languages is not at all the solution,” said Uma Padmanabhi, who teaches Kannada out of passion.