On June 20, Friday, HT’s front-page headline went something like this “Easy maths or tough maths?”

A catchy headline that provoked me to further investigate the article and so I perused it with growing discontent after every line. It seems our SSC Board has been idle with nothing significant to do for a while, so now; they have come out with a very “innovative strategy” to reduce the number of students that flunk in this seemingly tough maths subject in their 10^{th} grade.

The “Innovative Strategy”: Come 9^{th} standard and students will be given an option between “easy maths” and “tough maths”.

The Catch: Students stupid enough to take this bait, that is, students who opt for easy maths in their 9^{th} standard would not be allowed to take up Maths at plus-two level (i.e. your 12^{th} standard) and hence can forgo any chance of being engineers or physicists.

Our education ministry has plunged into a new low this time. To keep up the façade, they are now tampering with the syllabus. What brought on this “revolutionary change”? According to the statistics, 30% of students who appear for SSC fail in Maths every year and this is their solution for the problem! It is despicable, to say the least, that the Board in order to maintain the useless percentage of pass-outs is providing the students an easy way out.

Will the student’s 9^{th} standard choices now decide their career? How is a mere 9^{th} standard student going to decide so early on if he will be an engineer or not? How can young pupils take a mammoth decision as this when the career conundrum keeps baffling even many postgraduates too? As it is, our young generation is not the smart one anyways, then why make things harder for these scatterbrains?

If this is a viable solution then why stop here? Staggering numbers of entrants flunk IIT’s entrance exams every year too, let’s make that easier now. Easy IIT or tough IIT? Easy CAT or tough CAT? Easy CET or tough CET? Easy CA or tough CA? And so on and so forth.

Instead of dealing with the problem head-on by either revising the syllabus or making the examination papers a bit easier or changing the techniques of teaching, the Board is scrambling out of problem by providing an easy way out for itself and the students.

The grossly over-rated education system and percentage policy has been taken too far. In an attempt to increase the percentage, a mere number, the Board is compromising the learning of the students and ignoring the bigger picture.

If tomorrow, Manoj, a ninth grader, opts for “easy maths” so that it would help him secure a higher percentage to get into Science after his SSC and he decides he loves Computers later on and wants to be a computer engineer, what then? He would jarringly wake up the fact that he CANNOT take up engineering because he has not been allowed to take up Maths at plus-two level.

I’d rather Manoj didn’t study at all. It would do him a world of good if he just proceeded to learning computers himself and be an engineer instead of wasting his years choosing between “easy maths” and “tough maths”.

Rightly said Tam…..our system is only getting more and more obnoxious……and most of the time we are aping other boards and when we do come up with something,its something really “original” like this……..

I beg to differ with your opinion. If you wud like to follow engineering in future, why wouldn’t you opt for the so called “tough” maths? The boards are not competitive exams unlike CAT or JEE and therefore, i think it is a welcome change.

If on the other hand, you find math difficult, and you merely want to pass 10th so you can follow arts etc, you have a way out now – easy math. You wouldn’t ever be using it inyour life so what is wrong?

I agree with Tony’s point of view. Those who “hate” maths can opt for the easy course just to pass 10th. But yes. Those who are confused and take the easier option and later realise they want to do engg. or physics. Well… they’ll be fucked. But then again… they asked for it. And then again it will teach them a lesson to think properly before making a hasty decision.

End of the day I think all form of formal education is overrated!

@Tony and Heckler

I don’t see why students who can’t decide so soon about what they want to do in life should be punished just because the Board wants to maintain it’s pass-out percentage. This option thing is just plain stupid. Either have an “easy math” or “tough math”.

Hey Tam, factual error. or rather factual error in example.

If I opt for easy math, i cannot take maths in the science stream or the commerce stream. This precludes any chance of me EVER trying to do computers or engineering, but not bio. At 9th level, the choice before the kid is not whether he wants to be selective or not. The choice is whether he is willing to work harder so that he can keep all his options open. If I’m undecided, I must choose tough maths, so that no avenues are closed to me. The same way someone who is undecided must take science after 10th. That way they can switch to commerce or arts if they want. the reverse is not true.

Basically it comes down to this, you better know what you want or more hard work is the price to pay – just to keep your options open.

Otherwise by extension of your logic, all students should be allowed to give CET. I took a vocational subject to score higher in my boards, so that made me ineligible to give the medical CET. Is that unfair? No. I could’ve taken biology, worked hard and then decided at plus two whether I wanted, or not, to do medical. The shortcut has a price.

PS. I am in NO way suggesting that the government is right. As usual, they’ve come up with a half baked, stop gap measure formulated by some dumb ass bureaucrat who knows figs about education.