After disrupted classes, India school pass percentages at a high

Kerala students covid ppe
Students in PPE kits appear for the Higher Secondary exam at St. Mary’s Higher Secondary School in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday, April 26, 2021. Image Credit: ANI

Thiruvananthapuram: Students were deeply affected when COVID-19 disrupted classes in March 2020, towards the end of the last academic year in India. And then, almost all of the 2020-21 academic year was a washout as schools remained closed in most parts of the country.

In that backdrop, one would expect students to have fared poorly in their studies but if their marks and grades are anything to go by, they have done exceedingly well when they did not go to school.

Near 100-per cent pass

The latest surprise were the results of the Indian Council for Secondary Education (ICSE) for classes 10 and 12 announced on Saturday, which also showed high pass percentages for different states.

In Kerala, the ICSE Class 10 pass percentage was a record 100 per cent, meaning no one from the state who wrote the examination failed.

Similar results were already coming from several state education boards, too. In May, the Punjab State Education Board announced a 99.93 per cent pass in the class 10 examination in the state, followed by the Odisha Board of School Examination announcing a 97.89 per cent pass in Class 10 in that state.

The Secondary School Leaving Certificate examination for Class 10 students in Kerala produced a similar result with a pass percentage of 99.47 earlier this month.

A ‘helping hand’

The evaluation of answer sheets is considered to have been liberal across the country, taking into account the disruption of classes and the psychological pressure faced by students who could not attend physical classes for an entire year.

In addition, there was also a ‘helping hand’ from the government. For instance, in Kerala, students were given ‘focus areas’, from where they could expect questions. In addition, for subjects with 40 marks, there were questions for 80 marks and students were permitted to answer all questions.

Trolls on the system

As almost all who appeared for the exams passed, trolls on the education system dominated social media space following announcement of school final results.

“When children went to school, 41,906 A+ , when they sat at home, 121,318 A+. Should schools reopen at all?” went a troll, about the steep rise in the number of students who got an A+ for all subjects.

Not realistic

Observers said the school results hardly mattered since they were little more than a qualifying mark for the next level of education.

“The exponential change in technology is going to make a huge impact to what the industry needs and what kind of jobs will emerge. In future, cognitive skills more than mechanical ability will be in vogue”, Tony Thomas, chief digital and information officer of Amsterdam-based Signify told Gulf News.

Entrepreneur and former IAS officer C Balagopal said “the education system is oriented towards the factory system from as far back as the industrial revolution”. He said what was being taught today had very little relationship with the world as it is emerging.

Parents’ fear

The large pass percentages have left many Indian parents with twin fears: one whether their wards will get admission for higher secondary schooling because almost everyone has passed and a very large number of students have achieved A+ for all subjects.

Secondly, they also fear whether their children have picked up adequate theoretical knowledge, and also whether their social skills have been blunted by the inability to go to school.