The recent announcement of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa regarding introduction of subjects such as history, economics and commerce in the newly upgraded schools brings a host of options to students going to these schools.

Administratively, it might require the creation of new teacher posts for the subjects and appointment of teachers trained in these disciplines.

Academically, it means students in schools being upgraded can look beyond conventionally popular options such as medicine and engineering, to consider fields such as chartered accountancy, finance and economics, management, commerce and law.

According to students going to government schools, the tendency among students is to go for the “safe options” that will take them to professional institutions offering courses in medicine or engineering.

“Students tend to choose the science group thinking they will have a good job once they finish a professional course, particularly engineering,” says A. Janaki Devi, a class XI student of the Government Girls' Higher Secondary School, Ashok Nagar.

Though she chose the pure science stream because of her keen interest in medicine, many of her friends chose the science stream not knowing what the commerce stream or humanities could offer in terms of career options.

R. Karthik, a class X student says, often students do not know of many courses. “Which subject should one study to become a reporter?” he asks.

Parents also see the move as a welcome change to school education in higher classes. “If everyone becomes a doctor or an engineer, who will pursue law, commerce or the arts? In fact, we need a multidisciplinary approach to learning,” says Karl Mozhi, advocate and parent of Janaki Devi.

While introduction of new subjects is seen as a progressive move, teachers and students feel that mere introduction of subjects may not help.

“The department should have programmes where professionals in these fields come and address students on scope for and career opportunities in these subjects. Then, students might be in a better position to take an informed decision,” says a class XII mathematics teacher of a Chennai Higher Secondary School.

According to sources in the School Education Department, so far schools that were upgraded from being high schools (upto class X) to higher secondary schools (upto class XII) offered only the science stream. The move to introduce additional subjects is aimed at widening the range of options at Plus-Two.

A senior official says, “Teachers to be appointed to the newly-created posts will be recruited either through the Teachers Recruitment Board or by promotions.”

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