It is almost a mass exodus of students that has managers of CBSE schools worried. ABDUL LATHEEF NAHA finds out the reasons for it from stakeholders.

Students who have passed Class 10 in the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) stream in the State are leaving in their droves to do the Plus Two course in State-syllabus schools. CBSE schools witness an outflow every year but not on the scale as seen this year, and the mass departure has come as a shock to school managers and parents of students who remain in those schools.

The main reason for the outflow seems to be finding top ranks in the State engineering and medical entrance examinations. With Plus Two marks being considered for assigning ranks for engineering degree admissions, the State stream is beckoning students from the CBSE schools. The students believe that marks are awarded liberally in the State’s higher secondary stream.

The abolition of entrance tests for such professional courses as B.Sc. Nursing and B.Sc. Medical Laboratory Technology too has been pulling CBSE students into State schools.

A first class in the State stream is of little value today as the number of students scoring 80-90 per cent marks has gone up considerably in recent years. But unlike the State stream, the CBSE has not been liberal in giving marks. Scoring 70-80 per cent marks is considered a creditable achievement in the CBSE stream. And when it comes to admission to professional courses, the difference in marks between the CBSE and the State streams becomes a matter of grave concern.

“Although there are a few other reasons too, the feeling among students and parents that scoring marks is easy in the State stream when it is difficult in the CBSE stream, and this largely makes them choose State-syllabus schools after Class 10,” T.P.M. Ibrahim Khan, president of the Kerala CBSE Schools Management Association, says.

Besides, Mr. Khan says, with the CBSE Class 10 students scoring better marks this year following the introduction of Comprehensive and Continuous Evaluation (CCE), more choices have opened up for them in the State stream. “Most of them with good marks can now get any course of their choice for Plus Two in the State stream,” he says.

The early declaration of CBSE Class 10 results this year has not only given them enough time to make informed and unhurried choices but also opened up plenty of opportunities before them. In the past two years, the delay in the publication of the results had caused much consternation, depriving many students of the courses and institutions of their choice in the State stream.

Another reason attributed to the departure from the CBSE stream is that the students have more choices in the State stream than in the CBSE. Most reputable CBSE schools fix cut-off marks for Plus One admission to streams such as bio-maths. Having scored good marks in Class 10, it is easy this year for the CBSE students to get admissions in State schools of their choice.

The evaluation of CBSE Plus Two examination papers this year was extremely tight. Mr. Khan says this too has caused much anxiety and fear among parents. A large number of CBSE students scored less marks for than what they expected for Plus Two, particularly in maths.

“The situation is tricky and volatile as people are extremely anxious about the education of their children. Any slight move or change in the system will make an impact on a section of parents,” Mr. Khan says.

K. Unnikrishnan, president of the Confederation of Kerala Sahodaya Complexes, says that neither the students nor the schools cannot be blamed for the problem of post-Class 10 exodus. “They are two different systems. When the National Council for Educational Research and Training manages the curriculum for CBSE, it is the State Council for Educational Research and Training which runs the show for the State. It makes a difference,” Mr. Unnikrishnan says.

Some CBSE schools in the State had to discontinue their senior secondary programme because of the student departure for the State’s higher secondary programme. Pallotti Hill Senior Secondary School, Mukkam, was one of them.

Hardly 10 of the 70 students who passed out of Class 10 at M.E.S. School, Kodungalloor, have applied for the Plus One course there. All the 33 students who passed out of Goodwill English School, Pookkottumpadam, have opted for the State stream.

Mr. Khan, however, avers that there is nothing to worry about the flow of students into the State stream. It is not a flow out of the CBSE. It is an indication of people’s anxiety arising out of a selfish pursuit for jobs.

Credibility

He says the credibility and quality of CBSE education has never gone down. “A seat in CBSE schools, particularly in urban areas, is still in great demand,” says Mr. Khan.

Though there are nearly 1,000 CBSE schools in the State, hardly half of them run senior secondary programmes. Most reputable schools, particularly in cities such as Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Thrissur and Kozhikode, are facing a rush for Plus One admission. So is the case with CBSE schools around reputable entrance examination coaching centres such as Thrissur and Pala. No doubt the State government has been liberal in its school education. But educationists dispute the government’s argument that the better results is a reflection of a rise in quality.

The current State government, though not antagonistic towards the CBSE schools, has done little to prevent or discourage the student outflow from that stream. Instead, it has caused some confusion among the CBSE students seeking admission to the Plus One in the State stream. The students who passed Class 10 examinations are yet to get their certificates from the CBSE. With the State schools insisting that they cannot give admission without the certificates, many students have begun to run from pillar to post.

“It is something the State can easily address. The mark sheets supplied by the respective schools should be enough to complete the admission formalities, though provisionally. The original certificates can be provided soon after the CBSE makes them available,” M. Abdul Nazer, president of Malappuram Sahodaya, says.

It was a drastic fall in the number of students joining the State schools in recent years that led the State government to adopt measures to check the flow of students to the CBSE. Giving weight to Plus Two for engineering admission has been viewed as part of that move. The difference in quality between the State and CBSE systems worries managers of education in the State. When the students passing out of the CBSE 10th standard in Kerala make up one-tenth of the numbers passing out of the State stream, the number of CBSE students cracking engineering and medical entrance examinations is much more than that of their State counterparts. Mr. Nazer says that was why major tuition centres give preference to CBSE students for admissions. Mr. Khan says the concept of Kerala’s education system remains oriented towards professional courses. “No-one here is interested in education for education’s sake,” he says.

Kerala has the highest number of CBSE schools in the country. More than 50 per cent of the 1000-odd schools have the higher secondary course. Still, the CBSE does not have a regional office in the State. Vested interests allegedly torpedoed attempts to set up the office.