West Bengal Class X exam results: where are the boys?

Students rejoice after the Class X exam results were announced in West Bengal on Friday.

Students rejoice after the Class X exam results were announced in West Bengal on Friday. | Photo Credit: Debasish Bhaduri

The results of the Madhyamik Pariksha, 2022, or Class X Board exam announced by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBSSE) on Friday, pose a riddle: where are the boys?

The gender skew is sharp: about 11.27 lakh students enrolled for the examination, 6.27 lakh girls and 5 lakh boys. Successful girls outnumber boys by 1.2 lakh. While WBBSE authorities projected it as indicative of the growing importance of educating girl children, the skew is one of a piece with other major pre-university examinations.

For instance, in this year’s Higher Secondary Examination (Class XII), the number of girls appearing was 71,000 more than boys in a total of 7.75 lakh students. The results will be declared on June 10.

The difference is even sharper in the West Bengal Madrasah Board exam, where of the 56,600 students appearing, 38,224 were girls.

While the number of girls writing the Board examination has been increasing over the past few years, the girl-boy gap has increased significantly. This, when the fifth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) put the State’s sex ratio at 992 (females per 1,000 males).

‘Matter of concern’

Teachers point out that it is a matter of concern if boys of the same age group are not taking the Boards. “The figures indicate that boys are not writing the Board examination. They are dropping out and joining the workforce. It should be a matter of concern and introspection for the government,” said Saugata Basu, general secretary of West Bengal Government School Teachers Association.

Mr. Basu also said that conditional cash transfer schemes such as Kanyashree, which provide incentives to girl students, should be extended to boys from the economically weaker sections. The State government has a quota of 2.46 crore applications for the Kanyashree scheme as of now.

“We have been observing that over the past few years boys as young as 10 years old are dropping out and taking up work. This was more prevalent in the minority community but now it can be seen across communities,” said Kumar Rana, formerly associated with Amartya Sen’s Pratichi Institute that works on education, health and gender equity.

Mr. Rana also pointed out that the increasing number of girls writing Board exams is not translating into higher enrolment in colleges. “In terms of child marriage, West Bengal records one of the highest numbers in the country,” he said.

Forty-two percent of women aged 20-24 got married before attaining the legal minimum age of 18 in West Bengal, according to the NFHS-5.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2022 11:28:46 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/west-bengal-class-x-exam-results-where-are-the-boys/article65492443.ece