It is over four years since class XI and XII syllabus of the State Board was revised, but the changes, especially in the core subjects seem to have had only a little importance and relevance for students pursuing either engineering or sciences. This is a concern that students and subject teachers have often been raising, but to little effect.
Chemistry had always been a tough subject for R.N. Shahidya in school, but whatever she learnt with difficulty is of little use in the engineering programme that she is pursuing now. “There is no trace of organic chemistry in engineering. Around 45 per cent of marks were for organic in class XII and we couldn't dare skip it. In fact, 90 per cent of the Chemistry that I studied in school has no relevance to what I am learning now,” says the first-year electronics and engineering student of SSN College of Engineering.
The same is the case with Physics and Mathematics for the students. The general complaint is there is no continuity in chapters in Mathematics in school. As regards Physics, the State Board students complain about the syllabus being voluminous, particularly topics such as light and optics.
Professors and academics agree that the Higher Secondary School syllabus is vast. Some teachers say the class XI syllabus is more difficult than that of class XII. This imbalance is hampering teachers and students. “In engineering we notice that a majority of students do not know their basics. That's also because teachers rush through the syllabus as it is vast and students do not learn with any logic in mind,” says R. Jeyalakshmi, professor at SRM University. According to her, emphasis is more on physical and inorganic chemistry in most branches of engineering. Organic chemistry is dealt with for students pursuing biotech courses. “The wider the syllabus at school, the less the depth,” she says.
V. Balasubramanian, Chairperson, Higher Secondary Chemistry Textbook Committee and former Head of the Department of Chemistry at Presidency College, says there was a vast difference in CBSE and State Board syllabus and the content was prepared in accordance with the NCERT.
“Teachers, college professor and experts were consulted before writing the book. As schools had raised concerns 20 per cent of the syllabus was reduced,” says Mr. Balasubramanian. He says that in a perfect system there must be scope to revise syllabus often, say, every three or four years, as done by the CBSE and colleges. With the Uniform System of School Education being introduced for all classes from the coming academic year, schools say regular feedback and working on the suggestions is one way to ensure right balance.
A senior official from the School Education Department says the Board members of the Uniform System of School Education can constitute sub-committees of subjectwise experts to review textbooks. “For instance, some conceptual errors and changes are being carried out in the class VI ‘Samacheer Kalvi' textbooks,” the official added.