Over 4-year period, pass rate in Class 9, has been around 50%; AAP govt accused of ensuring only capable students take exam, it blames no-detention policy.
New Delhi: The Delhi government has gone to town over the performance of students in the class 12 CBSE exams in schools run by it, and why not.
With a pass percentage of 90.68 per cent, the capital’s government schools have outperformed private institutions, which have recorded a pass percentage of 88.35 per cent.
They also recorded the second best overall performance of government schools across the country, finishing behind Thiruvananthapuram, where the pass percentage for state-owned schools was 99.11 per cent.
But delve deeper into the data, and a pattern emerges, of a ‘filtering’ system in the capital that appears to be priming only its most capable students to take the Class 12 board exams.
As per data accessed by ThePrint, about half of the students in Delhi government schools fail in Class 9, in effect ensuring that only 50 per cent of the enrolled government school students go on to take the Class 10 and Class 12 board exams.
Under the no-detention policy, students cannot be failed until Class 8. They can only be failed in Class 9, in internal exams that the schools themselves have to conduct.
Over the past four years, when the overall pass percentage in Class 12 has consistently been above 88 per cent in Delhi’s government schools, the pass percentage in Class 9 has hovered around the halfway mark.
Data shows that in 2013-14, the pass percentage was 55.96 per cent in Class 9; 51.74 per cent in 2014-15; 50.78 per cent in 2015-16, and 52.28 per cent in 2016-17. Subsequently, almost a similar number of students who passed in class 9 appeared for the class 12 exams later.
Consistency after dip
A further pointer of a ‘filtering’ system is in the number of students who eventually go on to take the Class 12 board exams — the number is almost the same as the number of students who have passed Class 9.
For example, 1,17,265 students passed Class 9 in 2013-14, while in 2016-17, when these students would have reached Class 12, 1,21,681 appeared for the board exams.
This, however, is not the case with Delhi’s private schools, where almost a similar number of students appear in Class 9, move on to Class 10 and further on to Class 12.
As per data with the Delhi government, of the 3,11,824 Class 9 students in government schools, only 1,64,065 made it to Class 10 in 2016-17. In the same period for private schools, of the 1,05,187 students in Class 9, around 97,714 made it to Class X — a pass percentage of 92 per cent.
The reason, private schools say, is because they pay attention while evaluating students even when there are no examinations up to Class 7.
“The no-detention policy had a system of continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE), which was a means to measure the progress of students. We are very regular with our CCE; hence the number of children dropping out in Class 9 is very less. This is something that government schools do not do, resulting in large dropouts even after Class 7,” said a principal of a private school in Delhi who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Delhi government too blames no-detention policy
The AAP government in Delhi too blamed the no-detention policy for the large number of dropouts in Class 9.
“A large number of students failing in Class 9 is because of the no-detention policy. Under the policy, students were not being detained till Class 7, which is why most teachers did not pay attention to students. By the time they came to Class 9, they were weak in studies and started failing,” Atishi Marlena, former advisor to Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia, told ThePrint. “After these students fail, we send them to open schooling to pursue the rest of their school education.”
Teachers who have worked in Delhi government schools on the other hand told ThePrint that schools are deliberately dropping weak students at the Class 9 level. The filtering, they say, begins earlier in classes 6 to 8, when students are divided into three different groups.
Students in Delhi government schools are divided into three groups in Class 6 —the Pratibha or the best students; the Neo Nishtha or those who barely pass, and Nishtha or those who are in the middle of both groups.
While they all sit in the same classroom, the teaching methods vary for the groups. “Discrimination against weak students starts at the level of classes 6 to 8. Students who are not good are taught just 30 per cent of the syllabus so that they can somehow get through the exams. Their question paper is just a 30-mark one in Class 8, which is to barely pass them and get them to Class 9. When these students take a real exam in Class 9, they fail. Thus 50 per cent of the students drop out at the level of Class 9 itself,” a former government school teacher, who has seen the system closely, told ThePrint.
A science question paper for the Neo-Nishtha group in Class 7, examined by ThePrint, was for a maximum of 30 marks and carried very basic questions such as asking students to name a fossil fuel, identify which crop grows in which season and identifying the shape of a microorganism.
The AAP government, however, defended the system it introduced in 2016. “Some students were so weak that they could not read or write, hence we had to divide them into different groups and teach them at a level that they could understand,” Atishi said.
Not just AAP
And the poor Class 9 results haven’t just been under the AAP government. Even as Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken took to social media Monday to accuse the AAP government of failing half of the students to get better results in Class 12, data shows that around 50 per cent of students failing in Class 9 has been a feature in Delhi’s state schools from 2013-14.
The AAP government assumed power in 2015.
An earlier version of this report erroneously referred to Class X results in Delhi government schools. The error is regretted.