While Education Department is optimistic about students dropping one core subject, academicians worry if it will impact their future choices. However, parents and students are happy that their burden has decreased.
Every year, more than eight lakh students join Class 11 after clearing the board exams, while about one lakh candidates choose polytechnic courses after Class 10. The Directorate of School Education had recently issued an order stating that Class 11 students of Tamil Nadu State Board could choose five subjects instead of the present six from the 2020-21 academic year. The five-subject option is currently available for Central Board of School Education (CBSE) students.
According to the State government order, besides Language and English subjects, students could choose three core subjects. This is applicable to students opting either Commerce or Science streams.
At present, science stream students have Language, English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology or Computer Science. For Commerce stream, students have Language, English, Mathematics, Commerce, Accountancy and Economics.
Once implemented, students planning to pursue engineering can leave Biology and concentrate only on Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. Similarly, those who want to study medicine can leave Mathematics and choose Physics, Chemistry and Biology. This option is also applicable to Commerce students, who want to specialise in a particular subject.
A senior official from the School Education Department said that this would reduce the burden of studying an additional subject. “They can concentrate on their choice of subjects and get good marks in board exams, which would help them to get seats of their choice when they reach higher studies,” he added.
Academicians oppose the move
However, educationists say that more options would mean more opportunities for the students. “This would create limited options for the students when they go to higher studies,” said E Balagurusamy, former Vice Chancellor of Anna University.
The government should not allow the students to choose the subject they like as they would not be mature enough to take a decision at such a young age. “If the students choose only five subject and do not get admission in engineering, they would be forced to do only BSc in one of the three subjects,” he pointed out.
For instance, Mathematics is an important and core subject for any student. “If they want to do Computer Science, which is a job-oriented course, Mathematics is must. Therefore, they will lose the opportunity if they leave it out in Class 11 and 12.”
PB Prince Gajendra Babu, general secretary of State Platform for Common School System – Tamil Nadu (SPCSS-TN) said studying all the core subjects is important for the students to have more opportunities when it comes to higher education. “The government move to introduce the option of taking only five subjects will benefit only to students who get engineering and medical seats,” he added
Prince pointed out that the students aged between 16 and 18 years cannot take major career decisions, and demanded that the government should withdraw the move.
Teachers added that the government move will not reduce their workload. “There is an impression that the government move will reduce our work. That is not the case,” said S Kalaivani, a Mathematics teacher at Pallavaram government aided school.
Parents, students welcome decision
“If I do not like a subject and feel that it will not fetch me good marks, why should I take the burden to study it? I want to do medicine, and now have the option to leave Mathematics,” said K Uma Shankar, a Class 10 student at a matriculation school in Pammal.
P Mallika, another Class 10 student who wants to be an engineer, said she would be able to concentrate on the core subjects if she can opt out of Biology. “Now I don’t have to use the dissection box,” she added.
Parents also agreed, noting that the pressure on their children will be considerably reduced. “It is better that students choose their subjects of their choice,” opined D Vijayalakshmi from West Mambalam, whose son is in Class 10 now. It would also reduce the burden of paying tuition fee for the subject that the children have no interest in, she said.
Recalling his experience, G Prabakar, a IT professional from Adambakkam, said spending time and energy on biology made him lose government engineering admission by few marks. “As the counselling is based on the marks scored in Class 12, students will be able to score good aggregate marks in the subjects of their choice,” he added.
Echoing a similar view, E Manoharan, a senior physiatrist, said that this would reduce the stress that students face – an issue that many parents raise, especially during exam time. “The move will help the student as they will be more relaxed while studying their choice of subjects,” he opined.