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Class XI biology finds fewer takers

WHAT NEXT: Fewer students are opting for the biology stream, school heads observe.   | Photo Credit: — PHOTO: K.V.SRINIVASAN.

Meera Srinivasan

Those who opt for biology are from families that have many doctors, say teachers

CHENNAI: Computer science is clearly their first choice. Otherwise, they settle for a language, but biology seems to figure at the fag-end of the list of subjects students opt for with mathematics, physics and chemistry.

Heads of city schools acknowledge that not many students these days opt for Biology in Plus-Two. And they see why. “They see engineering students get placed while in the third year. Medicine, on the other hand, does not guarantee a job or a high income immediately after graduation,” says Vasantha Balakrishnan, who recently retired as headmistress of Presidency Government Girls Higher Secondary School.

Supervisor of D.A.V. Public School, Velachery, Ramadevi says most students don’t have the patience to pursue a five-year course like medicine and a post-graduation later. “Without a post graduation or specialisation, it’s very difficult to make a mark in the field of medicine. Not many children seem ready for this consistent effort,” she points out.

Only about five percent of the total number applicants to Class XI have opted for Biology, she said. “Until a couple of years ago, Biology was the most sought after stream. Not anymore,” she adds.

Students also seem to find the stream very tedious when compared to the computer science stream.

“Not many have the patience for diagrams. They see it as being very time-consuming,” Ms. Balakrishnan says, adding, “Children are familiar with computer. Therefore, they think the computer science will be relatively easier.”

Schools face challenge

Consequently, many schools are facing the challenging of accommodating applicants in Class XI. “How do we accommodate all the children in one stream? We need computers, labs and supporting infrastructure,” she says.

For many parents, seeking admission to a preferred stream in Class XI seems to serve as a precursor to the college admission process. “My son wants to study computer science. But he scored only 70 per cent in his Class X examination and he is not eligible for ‘science with computer science’ stream. They even offered him biology or commerce. He is interested in neither,” said R. Mahesh, a parent. Ms. Balakrishnan feels that the few who opt for biology are those from families that have many doctors.

Many city schools, which earlier had one section for Biology, are grouping the students with other science students, as there are not enough takers for Biology to warrant a separate section.

“So the biology students go and sit in another room for the biology period alone. Otherwise, the subjects these students and their computer science counterparts study are the same,” said a biology teacher of a school in Central Chennai.

“Until I was in class VIII, I wanted to become a doctor. But now, I have decided to take computer science as it would give me more choice later. I want to work in a top IT company. I might want to work for a few years and then do management,” says R. Shyamala, a student of a matriculation school in Anna Nagar.