‘Class XI public exam wasn’t launched keeping welfare of students in mind’

Published - May 17, 2024 12:24 am IST - Chennai

As soon as Class X students complete their State board exams, they gear up to prepare for the Class XI public exams. Though Tamil Nadu has logged a pass percentage of 91.17 this academic year, there has been an increase in the number of students who have failed compared to the previous year.

Introduced in the 2017-18 academic year, the Class XI public exam was touted as a method to ensure that private schools taught the Class XI syllabus. It was stated that private schools would teach the Class XII syllabus for two years, after Class X, in a bid to prepare the students for admissions to medical or engineering colleges.

Since its introduction, the number of failures in the Class XI public exam declined before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they increased since 2021 with 2022 recording the highest number of failures at 83,819.

Teachers and officials blame students for their lackadaisical attitude in clearing the exam as these marks are not counted anywhere. “Most students [who would have failed] would have missed one or two exams, with the thought of clearing them in supplementary exams,” said an official from the School Education Department.

“The public exam was not introduced keeping students’ welfare in mind. To curb the private schools’ practice [of skipping Class XI syllabus], the State decided to tax the students,” said Aruna Rathnam, an educationist. She further said that teachers, too, would be under pressure to ensure a 100% pass.

Some teachers pointed out that Class XI public exam has in fact shortened the time period to prepare for competitive exams. “The NEET examination began in Tamil Nadu around the same year. It [the Class XI public exam] has now robbed students of an opportunity to prepare for competitive exams,” a private schoolteacher said.

“The Class XI exam is an anomaly. It only causes stress in teachers and students,” Lakshmi Vijayakumar, founder of SNEHA, said.

However, teacher associations across the State have suggested that 20% of the marks obtained in the Class XI public exam could be consolidated with the Class XII marks.

“The Class XI public exam could be turned into a common test as in the case of a half-yearly exam where the question papers are given by the department,” P. Vishnucharan, Correspondent, Shree Niketan Group of Schools, said.

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