Over 5 years, students rise 17%, distinctions more than double

MUMBAI: Over the past five years, even as the number of students appearing for the Higher Secondary Certificate(HSC) examination went up by only 17%, the number of those scoring a distinction (above 75%) more than doubled. With seats at top-rung colleges not seeing an increase at the same pace, competition for students to get in has only got tougher over the years.

According to data with the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, which conducts the HSC exam, the number of candidates went up from 12.7 lakh in 2012 to 15 lakh this year. Vis-a-vis the number of candidates who scored more than 75%, across the three streams, Arts, Science and Commerce, went up by 122%, from 49,819 to 1.10 lakh, in those years.

Amid the moderation row that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) was recently embroiled in, the state board has maintained that it never inflated marks. “The syllabus and pattern changed four years back, and we have conducted eight HSC exams since. Students and teachers understand the syllabus better with every passing year and it helps scores to increase,” said Gangadhar Mhamane, chairperson of the board.

Teachers said scores of students increased in 2013-14, when the board introduced 20 mark practical exams and orals for subjects other than science. “Over the last five years, the pattern of examination has undergone a change. Students can score better because of oral and practical exams. The board also introduced more objective-type questions, which helped students, compared to the previous format, where students had to write a longer answer and did not score full marks for it,” said Anil Deshmukh, a teacher at Sathaye College, Vile Parle.

In 2013, 49,819 students bagged a distinction. This number increased to 79,596 the following year. The numbers fell in 2016, when the board introduced external examiners for practical and oral exams, as it found schools were not awarding marks on merit. “But this year, students and teachers knew about the external examiners from the beginning and must have prepared accordingly,” said Deshmukh.
Despite this, principals feel state board students will continue to be at a loss, compared to students from the CBSE and ISC boards. “In the state board, students cannot score 99 or 100 in a language but that seems to be happening with other boards. This means that entry for these students will continue to be difficult at top colleges,” said Parvati Venkatesh, principal, Mulund College of Commerce. This year, while HSC toppers at most junior colleges scored 95-96%, CBSE and ISC top-scorers were well beyond 98% at some schools.
While the number of high scorers across boards is increasing steadily, seats in top-rung colleges may not be matching up. Colleges get permission to increase seats only by 15% each year. This means competition to get into a college of your choice only gets tougher. “Many students apply to our college, so we try to increase seats whenever possible with permission from the university, but it may still not be enough,” said Hemlata Bagla, in-charge principal, KC College, Churchgate. Old colleges in the city are also limited by infrastructure.
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