Maharashtra, with three national toppers this year, has, however, recorded the lowest pass percentage for the third consecutive year in the Indian Certificate of Secondary Examination (ICSE).
Across city schools, while the number of students scoring above 90 was considerable this year, the average performance of schools had dropped. The pass percentage of the state in the all-India exams dipped this year by 0.15%. Last year, the percentage had fallen by 0.3%.
The Council of Indian School Certificate Examination that conducts the ICSE exams has attributed this trend to the subject environmental studies (EVS) being discontinued from last year. “EVS was a high-scoring subject. It also helped students secure minimum passing marks. This could be the reason for the dip in the passing percentage this year,’’ said Gerry Arathoon, chief executive and secretary of the council, adding that the overall ICSE pass percentage had also dipped. The overall pass percentage fell to 98.20% this year from 98.62% last year and 98.61% in 2011. Prior to that, for at least four consecutive years, the pass percentage had shot up.
The decline in the pass percentage has brought down the average performance of city schools. For instance, at Jamnabai Narsee School, Juhu, the school average has dropped to 86.18% from 98.80% last year.
Nureen Fernandes, principal of Lilavatibai Podar School, Santacruz, said the school’s performance had not changed much. “We saw the same number of students scoring above 80 and 90 this year. There was a surge in the numbers last year. But, it has been uniform this year,’’ she said.
Students scoring above 95%, said hard work and participating in competitive exams gave them an edge. Devansh Shah from Jamnabai Narsee School who scored 97.6% said, “I have always loved giving competitive exams such as the science Olympiad, and reading science-based reference books, which has helped me a lot.”
Similarly, Abdulkadir Jawadwala, student of Christ Church School, Byculla, who scored 95.6%, said, “I never compromised on my sleep before the exams; I chose to wake up early instead of sleeping late. I also ensured I took regular breaks between studies so as to not feel taxed.”
‘Principal, teachers helped’
Riti Jain, student, Villa Theresa School, Scored: 74.34%
Fifteen-year-old Riti Jain carried an oxygen machine with her to the exam hall to write her Class 10 ICSE board exams.
A year ago, Jain, a student of Villa Theresa school, Cumballa Hill was diagnosed with bilateral bronchitis – a respiratory disease which makes her lungs resistant to oxygen in the air – because of which she has to have the oxygen machine with her at all times. She scored 74.34% and was surprised as she was not expecting more than 60%.
Her medical condition allows her to go to school for only one or two hours a day. “My principal and class teachers helped me a lot as they made it easier for me to study. They gave me extra coaching, guided and motivated me,” she said.
Jain aims to pursue arts and major in psychology. While admitting it has been a tough year, she says she owes her success to her parents and her principal, without whom she would not have been able to write her exams.
‘Some of my friends called me a loser’
Sunny Rizvi,student, Christ Church School, Scored: 60.5%
Sunny Rizvi, who scored 60.5% in his ICSE exams, is ecstatic.
Severe health problems have always made academics a hard nut to crack for this fifteen-year-old student of Christ Church school, Byculla.
As he has suffered from seizures since he was in Class 6, Rizvi could only study three hours a day for his Class 10 board exams, even in the days right before his exams.
“My doctors had strictly instructed me against exerting myself too much while studying. I could not even stay awake at night to study like my classmates did because it would give me a headache,” said Rizvi.
He said he suffered such a severe headache before his final economics exam this year.
“If I do not take my medicines even on one day, I tend to get headaches. While in Class 9, I had two such attacks,” said Rizvi.
He added that he was grateful to his school principal and teachers for their help.
“Some of my friends used to upset me by calling me a ‘loser’ because of my ailment; but my teachers have been very supportive throughout and helped me overcome my problem,” he added.
He plans to pursue commerce and business studies in the future. “This result has really boosted my self-confidence,” said Rizvi.
‘I would study while lying down in bed’
Aarj Jain, student, Chatrabhuj Narsee Memorial School, Scored: 86.6%
This 15-year-old did not let a life-threatening disease stand between him and his dreams. Braving excruciating abdominal pain, Aarj Jain, who suffers from stomach tuberculosis, secured 86.6% in the ICSE exams.
Jain, a student of Chatrabhuj Narsee Memorial School, Vile Parle who wants to pursue computer science engineering, scored 96 on 100 in the board’s computer paper.
“I am not very happy with my score. Under normal
circumstances, I would have performed a lot better. But I am glad I did not give up and wrote the exam,” he said.
He added that he studied lying down in bed. His father would read out loud to him.
Jain was diagnosed with stomach tuberculosis in January 2013, barely a month before the start of his exams.
Despite of the seriousness of his illness, which can cause which causes diarrhoea, weight loss and fever, Jain did not sit out the exam as he did not want to lose an academic year.
“I was too weak to write the paper but did not opt for a writer I knew I could write my paper better,” said Jain.
Writing his history paper was a nightmare, he said. “I had to stop every 15 minutes to try and overcome the pain. However, I still kept at it, and I barely managed to complete the paper in time,” he said.
‘Doc, mother encouraged me to give exams’
Gautam Pathare, student, HVB Academy, Scored: 80.90%
A few months ago, Gautam Pathare, 15, wrote his Class 10 ICSE Board biology and chemistry papers while he was in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Jaslok Hospital, Cumballa Hill.
On Friday, Pathare scored 80.90% in his Class 10 board exams. “I never expected it,” he said, when asked if he was happy with the score.
A student of HVB Academy, Marine Lines, Pathare was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when he was 10 years old, and on the weekend before his last two papers, he was rushed to hospital because his sugar levels were high.
“I was unconscious the day when I was admitted to the hospital, but when I regained consciousness, my doctor and my mother encouraged me to write the exams,” said Pathare.
“The doctor made all possible arrangements for me to be able to write my exams from the hospital,” he added.
Pathare wants to pursue commerce and become a chartered accountant.
The principal of HVB Academy, Chandrakanta Pathak, made arrangements with the ICSE board to have an invigilator go to the
hospital where Pathare was admitted, and also arranged for a writer from the school to write Pathare’s papers.
“My sugar levels were high throughout the year, and I cut down on packaged food completely. Now I am on a salad diet,” said Pathare.
“My food habits were one of the reasons for the rise in my sugar levels apart from stress and tension,” he added.