Crescent D’Souza, a Class 9 maths teacher at St Xavier’s High School in Dhobi Talao, is a worried man.
The government’s announcement that the state board’s maths and science curricula will be upgraded from Class 9 this year has implications for teachers as well as students."How will teachers suddenly teach an upgraded syllabus when classroom sizes are so much larger? Will they get enough training on the changes?" he asked, adding that the new syllabus will only push students to private tuitions in larger numbers.
For aided schools like St Xavier’s, choosing a non-SSC board is not an option, but moving out of the grip of government aid and thus to another board, is something the school is considering, its principal Father Baptist Pinto had said earlier.
Other unaided schools such as the Children’s Academy group of schools and N L Dalmia High School at Mira Road have already switched over from the SSC to the ICSE board.
“We had to move because we didn’t have freedom in the way we evaluated our students or the textbooks we wanted to use,” said Rohit Bhat, principal of Children’s Academy at Kandivli, pointing out that several other schools are also making the shift, and no new English-medium schools are opting for the SSC board.
It is perhaps this – the draw of the central and the international boards – that has the state government rethinking its own education board.
“The state board is making changes to catch up with the other boards, which is a good thing if these changes are implemented in a phased manner, not overnight,” said K A Viswanathan, a trustee at SIES College.
Last year, the board announced it would revamp its syllabus, implement the ‘Best Five’ subjects policy and make allowances for autistic students, among other things. It is also considering doing away with unit tests for Classes 5 to 8. Most appreciate the changes the board is bringing in for the SSC and HSC, and its attempts at innovation, but it’s the way these changes are timed that is worrying parents.
“Every time we get a new government, we get a new policy. There’s no consistency,” said Jayant Jain, president of the All India Federation of Parent-Teacher Associations.
But despite the flak it gets, the SSC board caters to several times the number of students compared to the central boards, and not everyone is in a hurry to move out. “Everyone in my family studied at an SSC school, and I am very happy with the education my children are getting,” said Akram Khan, whose children study at SSC schools in Bandra. “It has what we need.”