Amit Kumar (name changed) has scored 96.3% in CBSE boards. Since the day his result was announced he is depressed, anxious about whether he will get a subject of his choice in a good college.
As the number of children in 95 plus bracket in the 12th boards continues to swell every year, the number of 'highly meritorious' children being deprived of getting admission to a subject of their choice in a good college has increased.
The main reason attributed for this is the mismatch between the demand and supply. While the number of seats has remained static, the number of students scoring more than 95 has skyrocketed. There seems to be a mad rush for magnifying the marks by various boards. Marks are being inflated by allowing unusually unscientific moderation marks and grace marks.
According to sources while the number of students getting more than 90% in CBSE in 2008, was 1-1.5 %, this has now increased to nearly 6%.
Last week St Stephens had announced 98% as cut-off for Economics and English, leaving many heartbroken. Have the board papers become easier, more objective, have the students become smarter or are the boards 'inflating' marks?
Conceding that it was painful every year to confront children who had got very high scores but could not still get admission, St Stephens principal Valson Thampu said: " Marks have become almost meaningless as indicators to merit. This is a serious problem. This absurdity is entirely our making and stems from a wide disparity between demand and supply. It is an atrocity to subject such talented students to this level of frustration."
"Student's scores have improved over the years since as per CCE we assess students holistically rather than on rote knowledge. This helps them exhibit various aspects that they excel in and score better," says a senior official of CBSE.
"Our exam is made with some purpose. The board exams are an achievement test, not an elimination test. The main reason why so many excellent students are not getting admission is because there is a mismatch between supply and demand."
"There appears to be an unhealthy competition among the various boards across the country including the national boards. But at the same time, there is no denying the fact that children are becoming more smarter, more knowledgeable," says former CBSE chairman Ashok Ganguly.
"There is definite mismatch between supply and demand. As a solution, more seats could be added at the undergraduate level. Also due emphasis should be made on an alternate system of education like vocational education.
Maintaining that there was an urgent need to universalise excellence in all the institutions of higher education, he said: "This will check the rush of students from other cities to Delhi for admissions."
Gerry Arathoon, chief executive and secretary of Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE ) said that in the last two years, the number of students getting more than 90% had increased in ISC board. "But this is a competitive world. I have to give credit to students who have become brighter."
Maintaining that there was a common curriculum and the evaluations were being done in a transparent manner he said the papers were set as per the requirements. "The number of seats at an under graduate level have to be proportionately increased."