SSLC pass percentage has shot up substantially by over 4.6 points over the past five years

Growing competition among successive governments to increase the pass percentage of SSLC examination through liberal valuation has come in for criticism from experts.

The pass percentage has shot up substantially by over 4.6 points over the last five years, forcing academicians to sound the warning bell.

The success rate this year was a record 95.47 per cent against the last year’s figure of 94.17. In 2012, the pass percentage was 93.64 while the corresponding figure in 2011 was 91.37. In 2010, the pass percentage was 90.78.

Renowned academic B. Ekbal pointed out that the sole motive of stepping up the pass percentage has diluted the valuation process of students. He said failing in an examination was not a ‘big mistake’.

Teachers are often forced to accept the directive to be liberal while awarding marks to even the poor performing students. Dr. Ekbal, former Vice Chancellor of Kerala University, said this might be a reason for the assessment made by independent agencies that the students from Kerala lacked mathematical and communication skills.

He said the school education scenario in the State was on a better footing compared to the higher education especially in terms of infrastructure and allocation of funds but concerted efforts to put up a record pass percentage would not help in enhancing the quality of education but only result in generating human resources that lack adequate skills.

Supporting his views, K.P.P. Pillai, the former executive secretary of the Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE), said many students who reaped advantage of this liberal valuation would not be able to cope with the rigours of higher education.

Terming the claims of record pass percentage by the authorities as only a ‘populist move’, Dr. Pillai said there had been instances where a section of the teachers had opposed the directives to award marks even for wrong answers. The performance of students, who received the benefit of liberal valuation in SSLC and plus-two examinations, would turn mediocre when they joined courses like engineering as it required a different skill set, he said.

Dr. Pillai said that CBSE and ICSE students were at a slight disadvantage compared to students passing out from the State boards as the evaluation process in both these streams was tough. He urged the authorities to curb the tendency to deliberately increase the pass percentage every year.

But V. Karthikeyan, former director of the State Higher Secondary Education, had a different view when he put the onus of liberal valuation on the teachers. Only teachers would be held responsible once the pass percentage declines and hence they usually decide to be liberal while valuing the answer sheets, he said.

Even though he held teachers responsible for the increasing pass percentage, Mr. Karthikeyan accepted that the State was facing quality erosion as liberal valuation helped poor performing students to pass the examination. Studies had revealed that even those students who had little knowledge about Malayalam letters had passed SSLC examination, he said.

Mr. Karthikeyan said that such students would face difficulty once they complete undergraduation or postgraduation and fail to clear competitive tests like the State Eligibility Test (SET) and National Eligibility Test (NET)


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