Education is the elevator that helps children from underprivileged families climb the socioeconomic ladder. Children who receive poor education or those who drop out of school are more likely to be saddled with low-paying jobs for life, low quality of life, and possibly reduced life expectancy.
In its quest to tap into the power of education and promote social mobility and create opportunities for all, the ruling YSRCP has introduced several reforms in the education sector.
As a step towards achieving the goal, the Chief Minister announced that all government schools will shift to the English medium of instruction, a decision which has subsequently faced legal hurdles with opposition parties raising concerns over the practicality of the decision. After issuing several clarifications, the government went ahead to secure the Central Board of Secondary Education’s (CBSE) affiliation for all the 45,000 government-run schools in the State by 2024.
In the last two years, adequate funds have been spent on improving the infrastructure of schools that present a welcome sight now, and the State has managed to secure the CBSE’s affiliation for 1,092 schools in the first phase. Students of these select schools will write exams conducted by the Central Board in 2024.
Revamp of infrastructure, social audit of teachers and schools and reforms in the exam pattern are key decisions aimed at overhauling the education system.
To align with the Central Board’s six-paper pattern, the State has partially modified its earlier order to introduce a six-paper pattern for Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Public Examinations from the 2022-23 academic year.
The decision, by and large, has been welcomed by all, including students, their parents and managements of private and unaided schools in the State, except for their opinion on the merger of the physical science and biological science papers.
“Physical and biological sciences should be treated as two separate subjects or else students may suffer in the long run,” said MLC Vitapu Balasubramanyam. He also expressed apprehensions that the six-paper pattern may not augur well for the large number of non-CBSE schools in the State.
“We welcome the government’s decision on shrinking the SSC public exam papers from eleven to six to reduce stress for children. Our only plea is to make it a seven-paper pattern by separating physics and biology,” said K. Thulasi Vishnu Prasad, State general secretary of Andhra Pradesh Private Unaided Schools’ Management Association (APPUSMA).
Will the decision actually benefit the students?
“Board exams are a high-pressure, make-or-break situation for students. They also cause enormous mental stress. Reducing the number of papers will go a long way in helping us handle this pressure that will not last for many days at a stretch now,” said Akula Narasimha Rao, a Class X student, welcoming the government’s move.
Director of the AP State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) Pratap Reddy explained that the 11-paper system was relevant before the State introduced the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) pattern in schools, “as we felt the need to test the students extensively through four unit tests and two terminal tests.”
He said under the CCE system, a student’s performance is constantly monitored besides conducting four formative tests and two terminal tests. “There is no need to test the student extensively again in the public examinations,” he added.
Considering the debilitating impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the school education sector, the State government decided to reduce the number of question papers to seven from 11 in the last academic year. “In the seven-paper SSC examinations last year, students of private schools achieved 90% results, proving their adaptability,” said Mr. Vishnu Prasad.