The vast ground of a government school which would have otherwise been full with chatter instead saw students sitting in neat rows and circles pointedly staring at their books.
While some were about to take their practical examinations, others were revising for the model exam scheduled for the afternoon. With the board examinations drawing closer, classrooms are inundated with queries on ‘important questions’, and the divide between ‘bright’ and ‘weak’ students is sharper than ever, observe students.
“Once the syllabus is over, teaching is taken over by coaching,” said a headmistress of an all-girls government school. “In the next revision exam we will be giving a paper with just one-mark questions to help students score marks,” the HM said.
Additionally, the HM said that teachers must not be disturbed in the middle of the year. “Teachers must not be redeployed or transferred in the course of the academic year. Our class X maths teacher received a promotion and left in the middle and we had to make alternate arrangements,” the HM noted, adding that they do not retain students for special classes after 5 p.m., as per instructions given to them.
Heads of schools say that though there are expectations to ‘deliver results’ they are careful to ensure that it does not percolate to the student.
A HM of an aided school which is grappling with absenteeism said they scheduled their revision exams in the afternoon, so that students come to school in the morning, and use the time to study.
“We serve breakfast in the morning and are hoping that this will also be an incentive for students to come.”
In Tamil Nadu, the pass percentage for the higher secondary and class X examinations in 2012 were as high as 86.7 and 86.2 per cent respectively. Schools say that, individually, there is pressure not only to maintain but to show an increase in their pass percentages each year.
Revathy Bonns, principal and correspondent, Madras Christian College Matriculation Higher Secondary School, whose school secured a 100 per cent pass percentage both in class X and XII board exams says they start identifying the ‘weak students’ after the half-yearly, which is the first exam where students are required to study the entire portions.
“We have special classes for weaker students (those who fail in more than three subjects), and high-performing students. While the objective of the first is to make them pass, the second aims to help them secure a centum,” she says, adding that they also have question papers with varying difficulty levels.
Immediately after the half-yearly exam, they call parents of ‘weak’ students and chart a course of action, she says. “The idea is not to mount pressure on them, but to help them. We also have an in-house counsellor,” she says.
For CBSE students like Shreyans Munoth who opted for the school-based exam in class X, this is the first board exam, he will be facing. “When you study in a school that has consistently been producing results, you are expected to match up to it. But, there is no undue pressure. Our teachers have trained us so well that even if I wrote my accountancy paper tomorrow I can score over 90 per cent,” he says.
While the State board examination for class X will begin on March 27, the higher secondary examination will begin in March 1. CBSE board-examination for class X will begin on March 2 and for class XII on March 1.