Alifiya Khan | January 15, 2017,

Source : The Indian Express

Earlier this week, the Maharashtra government announced that state board students, proficient in drawing, classical and folk arts, would get 10 to 25 extra marks in Secondary School Certificate exams.

Students of SSC schools have welcomed the decision of the state education department to award extra marks for achievements in fine arts, as is done in the sports category, but parents and students of non-state board schools are unhappy about the announcement, as they feel it is bound to give an unfair edge to their SSC counterparts.

Earlier this week, the Maharashtra government announced that state board students, proficient in drawing, classical and folk arts, would get 10 to 25 extra marks in Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams.

According to the Government Resolution (GR), students who learn classical dance, drama and music for at least five years and pass a minimum of five exams from government-approved institutions will get 15 extra marks in SSC scores, while those who pass three exams can get 10 extra marks.

Students who win at national or state-level championships, or get scholarships in classical art, will get 25 marks. Students excelling in theatre are eligible for 10 extra marks, while between 5-15 marks will be awarded on the basis of grades in intermediate drawing exams.

The new rules have irked non-state board students and parents, who say the decision is “partial”.

“… Only SSC students will dominate the top colleges as they will have an advantage… which we don’t. Why can’t the state board recognise students’ talents by giving them grades like how CBSE does,” asked Shalini Saraf, the parent of a Std IX student in a CBSE school at Undri.

Educators and parents are also concerned about provisions in the GR that allow SSC students an advantage, even if they have not receieved any formal training, as students can get marks based on the number of performances in Class VIII-X.

“I think encouraging a child to excel in co-curricular activities and sports is a fantastic thing. However, I do not think that we need to award them or compensate them by giving extra marks… a good grade and a mention in the report cards, as happens in CBSE schools, works fine. Also, I believe that any such move would put students of other boards at a disadvantage. If the state board wishes to do so, they should come up with a system to convert grades in CBSE and other boards into marks and give a level playing field to all, or not give marks to anyone,” said Neelam Chakraborty, principal, Delhi Public School.

Ruma Kochar, whose son Gurseece is a national-level archer and a Class X student in a CBSE school, said that such rules should be uniform across boards.

“After Class X, we all have to take admission in state-board affiliated junior colleges, and the best-of-five scores are considered. Here, students from state board will have an advantage, as they will get all kinds of concessions, in subjects such as drawing to acting, which CBSE only considers as graded subjects. Some SSC students get up to a 100 per cent score, as seen in previous years, due to added marks. Also, parents will now start pushing students to take up drawing or acting, even if they have no interest in them, just because of extra marks, which will again put pressure on students,” she said.

Some parents also voiced concerns about the veracity of certificates submitted for extra marks.

“A few years ago, they stopped giving sports quota marks to students because some of them used to submit bogus certificates. If a similar pattern is followed for fine arts, imagine what a disadvantage it would be for the children,” said Deepali Vaidya, the parent of a Class VIII student in an ICSE school.