The Tamil Naduâ€™s Education Ministry has received much praise for its decision to stop announcing the first three ranks in the state board exams. However, Education Minister KA Sengottaiyan during the news briefing on Thursday, failed to touch upon a far more pressing matter - the need for revision of the current syllabus. Thus, when he landed in the Coimbatore airport on Friday, he faced several questions on the outdated syllabus that state board students are forced to study.
"A panel has been formed to discuss the present syllabus and several proposals have been made. We will hold a discussion regarding the matter. The move to initiate reforms in the present education system is underway," he told reporters. When asked about the difficulties students faced ahead of the common medical entrance examination - NEET, he said, "We will ensure CBSE like quality in state board syllabus as well. Students in State board will be equipped to deal with NEET."
However, experts who have been tracking the department's move carefully, claim that even the move to introduce reforms is late. "The only reason they have finally taken up the reform process is because NEET has forced them to," says Narayanan, Director of CHANGEindia, a centre for advocacy and research. "An expert committee has been formed but it will take them time to study the entire curriculum and even come up with an upgraded syllabus. This year's batch too will face many hardships when made to write the entrance test," he predicts.
Narayanan blames the Tamil Nadu government for failing to introduce policy changes over the last year. The Supreme Court had in April 2016 ordered the holding of a common entrance examination for medicine through NEET.
"There are two immediate solutions that they can heed to," says Narayanan. "The first is to introduce small books with updated portions for the first six months. Once this is done, they can work on the rest of the syllabus. This way, the current batch will also benefit. In addition to this, board exams should be held for the class 11 so that schools don't skip that part of syllabus," he adds.
Educationalists who spoke to The News Minute believe that it will take at least another two years for a new curriculum to actually be implemented. "The present batch of class 9 students may finally see a change in syllabus when they come to class 11," says Malathi Gopinath, Principal of the Vivekananda Matriculation Higher secondary school in Coimbatore.
"Right now, students don't know whether to focus on NEET portions or the subjects they have in school. Several schools are actually even advertising that they offer NEET coaching. The state government keeps saying it wants knowledge to be the main focus of education but at the end of the day, it has transformed into another business," she adds.