Science and Arts have been the most popular streams among students over the last 10 years while commerce has stagnated with only 14 per cent students opting for it, according to a study conducted by the Ministry of Education.
The study, which is an assessment of Class 10 and 12 board exam results, noted that there are huge variations in choice of streams across states.
“Only 2 per cent students in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana opt for Arts stream but in states like Tripura and Gujarat over 82 per cent students choose the stream while in states like Punjab and Rajasthan the percentage of such students is above 70,” it said.
Similarly, the popularity of science stream is extremely low in Punjab, Haryana and Assam where just about 17 per cent students opt for it, whereas in states such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, more than 60 per cent students choose science to study after class 12.
“In Goa and Karnataka, the distribution of students is almost similar in major streams,” the report said.
A large difference in performance of students from various boards, significant variation in pass percentages and no level playing field for students in terms of standard are among the challenges identified by the ministry in the assessment.
According to School Education Secretary, Sanjay Kumar, this difference between pass percentages of various states has led the education ministry to now look at standardising the assessment pattern for all 60 school boards across states in the country.
Currently, there are three central boards in India – Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) and the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). Apart from these, various states have their own state boards, taking the total number of school boards to 60.
The study analysed the Class 10 and 12 results for state boards of – Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Odisha, West Bengal and Telangana to understand the variation in results for different state boards.
Based on the report, all states have been asked to work on the standardisation process of assessment.
“A meeting in this regard was held earlier this month wherein the presentation was shared with the states and concerns about developing a common assessment system was discussed,” Kumar added.
The report also noted that 11 states contribute to 85 per cent of school dropouts. These states are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Assam, West Bengal, Haryana and Chhattisgarh.
Among possible causes for higher failure rate in state boards pointed out in the report include less number of trained teachers and teachers per school. This contributes to low Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) and also affects India’s overall rank in global indices.