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Fewer Maharashtra students among Olympiad finalists

Fewer students from the state have made been making it to the finals of the national science Olympiads (physics, chemistry, biology) over the past few years, according to the latest data.

mumbai Updated: Mar 21, 2012 01:41 IST
Bhavya Dore

Fewer students from the state have made been making it to the finals of the national science Olympiads (physics, chemistry, biology) over the past few years, according to the latest data.

The results for the 2012 physics, chemistry and biology Olympiads were announced on Friday, with five students from Maharashtra making it to the finals of the physics Olympiad, five for the chemistry Olympiad and two for the biology Olympiad. In 2007, for instance, there were nine finalists for physics from the state and eight for chemistry. Every year between 35 and 37 students from across the country are selected for the finals after two preliminary rounds.

“Maharashtra needs to improve, the system needs to be hauled up,” said Vijay Singh, national coordinator of all three science Olympiads and a professor at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE) in Mankhurd. “The state did much better in the nineties. The school exams need to be more application based and the experimental component should be emphasised.”

Between 35 and 37 students have been selected from across the country this time for the national finals, and will be trained at camps in HBCSE in the summer. Of these, five will be selected to represent India at the international physics Olympiad, four at the international chemistry Olympiad and four at the international biology Olympiad, all three of which will be held in July.

The centre of gravity has shifted since the nineties from steel cities such as Jamshedpur, Bhilai and Bokaro to Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh that have deeply entrenched coaching class systems, pointed out Singh. Andhra Pradesh in particular, has shown rapid strides in the number of students who get selected, with 10 making it to the physics finals this year compared to three in 2007, and 11 selected for chemistry compared to two in 2007.

This year 43,000 students sat for the first level test of the physics Olympiad from across the country, 34,000 for chemistry and 10,000 for biology. After this, 300 students were selected from each subject for the second stage exams, held in January.