Chennai: Exactly a year ago, the state government took a major decision to abolish rankings in class 10 and 12 board exams to promote healthy competition and do away the mental stress caused to students and parents.
Though a majority of students, parents and educationists had welcomed the decision at the time, now there are some genuine concerns raised in some quarters as the decision also deprived the scholarships and other benefits to the top ranking students.
Sources in the school education department said directly and indirectly around 5,000 top-ranked students would get sponsors and scholarships from state government and from various government departments, non-governmental organizations and private companies, trusts and individuals.
“Due to the abolition of rankings, toppers from the state level and district level could not avail any scholarship or financial aid for their higher education,” a source said.
Many top educational institutions also would offer free education to the district and state toppers. That was also stopped from last year.
“We wanted to avoid the undue publicity given to the toppers in public exams. The dramatic advertisement leads to complex among the students and we wanted to end that kind of culture. But, it doesn't mean the toppers should not be identified in government and government-aided schools at district and state level for giving scholarships,” said P.B. Prince Gajendrababu, general secretary, State Platform for Common School System.
“District wise and state wise toppers who studied Tamil medium in government and government-aided schools should get all benefits including free higher education. The government should reward the district and state level toppers in the form of scholarships to pursue higher education,” he urged.
The government has taken the decision following suggestion from the high-level committee headed by the school education minister K.A. Sengottaiyan.
E. Balagurusamy, former Vice-Chancellor, Anna University and one of the members of the high-level committee which suggested scrapping announcement of rankings in public exams, said, “The high-level committee suggested not to announce the state level rankings during the declaration of class 10 and 12 results. But, they can continue the scholarship programmes for top ranking students.”
Many teachers argued that the decision has done away the mental agony for students and teachers.
“The state government has taken a decision to end the mental agony of the students. But it is also the duty of the state government to appreciate the hard work and efforts of top rankers,” said P. Natarajan, general secretary, Tamil Nadu High, and Higher Secondary Schools Headmasters Association.
He suggested to the state government to devise a plan for giving scholarships to the top rankers who are hailing from poor families without giving them any publicity.
Private schools including the super schools in Namakkal and Salem districts now have shifted their focus from state ranks to NEET ranks to get medical admissions.
P. Swaminathan, secretary, SRV schools in Namakkal and Tiruchi said the private schools are now least worried about the state ranking.
“After Neet, now all private schools are focusing on how many students they could send to MBBS. We are not worried about the state board marks or ranks as it did not have any weightage in the medical admissions,” he said.
School education director R.Elangovan has defended the abolition of state ranks saying it has brought down the commercialisation in school education.
“The department has prepared district level merit lists based on the overall performance of government school students including their academic and sports performance. In each district, the committee selected 15 students from class 12 and 15 students from class 10 were selected and awarded financial aid up to Rs 20,000,” he said.
The class 12 students were given Rs 20,000 and class 10 students got Rs 10,000. In the new system, the student's merit was not decided only based on the marks. “Students should have scored a minimum of 60 per cent marks in public exams and they were selected based on their overall performance,” he said adding the new system really aims to help the poor students studying in the government schools.
When asked about the allegations that thousands of students were deprived of scholarships due to the scrapping of rankings he said, “The department is receiving a lot of requests from philanthropic organizations and trusts who want to sponsor the government school students. Our emphasis is not only on the marks while awarding scholarships.” However, educationists urged the state government to maintain a merit list and hand over it to the government departments and private organizations for giving scholarships. “Many meritorious students hailing from lower middle class and middle class are in need of help to pursue higher education. The government is right on not publicising top rankers. But, they should facilitate scholarships for all the top ranking students,” one of them said.