It has been three years since Samacheer Kalvi, a common syllabus for State board, matriculation, OSLC and Anglo-Indian schools was introduced.
Parents and other stakeholders are still deeply concerned about the learning outcomes in classrooms. Some are also seriously considering the option of drawing their children away from the Board.
According to a recent study by the Don Bosco Centre for Education Research and Training and TalentEase on ‘Impact and effectiveness of Samacheer Kalvi’, while there is an attempt to make lessons more interesting, quality and execution leave much to be desired.
The study, conducted among 106 students, 106 parents, 109 teachers and 23 schools heads in the State, including those of government-aided schools, asked stakeholders seven broad questions. One among them was whether the textbooks were better than the previous ones in terms of quality, content and language.
According to the study, parents were the most dissatisfied. Schools heads, too, echoed a similar view, the study shows.
A parent, whose daughter goes to a school that follows this board of education, said teaching of English, particularly, needed attention. The study showed that only 26 per cent of parents felt the English syllabus was better than the previous one. While welcoming the trimester pattern which had reduced the load on children, the safety tips printed on textbooks, and the introduction of Tamil as a compulsory subject, she felt that the syllabus has been severely diluted.
Some of the other complaints from parents are that the syllabus for some classes is too Tamil Nadu-centric, and students on this syllabus find it difficult to cope with competitive exams after class XII. Parents also articulated their anxiety that their children were not learning enough, compared to those in the CBSE/ICSE boards.
K. Sajith, who is going to appear for the class X board exam this year, said the syllabus was not very challenging, especially since he was also taking classes to crack the IIT- JEE. “Social science is better than the other subjects, but science is not very tough,” he said adding that he plans to switch to CBSE next year.
A principal of a Matriculation school in Pammal said science for class X has especially been watered down. “Now they write only one 100-mark paper combining physics, chemistry, botany and zoology, unlike before. Of this, 25 marks go towards practicals. When they come to class XI, they find it hard to cope,” she said, adding that there is a class of parents who, after the introduction of Samacheer Kalvi, increasingly prefer to admit their children to CBSE schools.
A correspondent of a group of schools in north Chennai said 3-5 per cent students, on an average, shift from their matriculation wing to the CBSE one every year. “There is still demand for seats in our matriculation school, but the trend is that parents prefer CBSE schools because they network with each other, and they think of CBSE as a safe option,” he said.
“I don’t think Samacheer Kalvi is substandard,” said a principal of a matriculation school in Chetpet. “The introduction of Samacheer Kalvi along with the continuous and comprehensive system of evaluation enables activity-based learning. Students understand the concepts instead of learning by rote, especially in the lower classes,” she said.
However, parents are in a quandary. While retaining the child in the State board will give the candidate a better chance at college admission in the State (the marks, and cut offs, are much higher in the State board when compared to the other boards of education), the dilution of standards remains a big worry.