GUWAHATI, June 1 - The High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) results declared on Wednesday have brought a major surprise with not even a single student from any educational institution in Guwahati finding his or her name in the merit list of top 10 rank holders, even as districts like Nalbari and Darrang have outperformed Kamrup (Metro) where the educational hub of State is located.
A cross section of experts and academicians told The Assam Tribune that the trend, which started a few years back and is becoming more pronounced with each passing year wherein Guwahati is steadily losing its position as far as number of rank holders is concerned, shows that good educational institutions with dedicated staff are springing up across the State.
At the same time, the experts also discounted any �conspiracy theory� about any deliberate attempt being made to promote private educational institutions at the expense of State-run schools and added that improvement of infrastructure, more opportunities for teachers and staff as well as adoption of grade system in place of the archaic marks-based method, which has already been discarded in many places, are needed to improve results and to ensure all-round development of students.
Dr NK Choudhury, former Vice Chancellor of Gauhati University, said that good institutions are coming up at various places, including in smaller towns.
�With expansion of the city, Guwahati also no longer has the kind of educational atmosphere which it used to have in earlier times. Besides, we see schools like Jatiya Bidyalayas and other such institutions of repute coming up at many places. This means meritorious students are benefiting, no matter where they live. It is a healthy sign that students are getting good facilities even in far-flung places,� he said.
Asked if there is a deliberate effort to promote private institutions at the expense of government schools, Choudhury said, �I do not believe that to be the case at all. It is just that for private institutions it is imperative to perform well if they want to remain in the business and attract students. So they obviously make more effort because for them it is a matter of struggle for survival.�
He added that even government establishments have good staff but what is needed is a dose of motivation and also improvement of infrastructure.
�I believe the trend wherein smaller towns and rural areas are starting to do well is here to stay. Education is no longer the preserve of only big urban areas,� Dr Choudhury said.
He also said that there is a need to �rethink� on the examination system as the present one is not doing justice to students.
�There is no need for two separate boards of SEBA and AHSEC. There is need for a single board like the CBSE,� he said.
Asked about the grade system, he said, �No doubt the grade system is more scientific and it should be considered seriously. But there is a need for caution and it should not be introduced haphazardly. We need experienced persons to handle any transformation to the grade system.�
Prof Dhruba Jyoti Saikia, Vice Chancellor of Cotton College State University, said that smaller towns and rural areas have been doing well even in admissions to reputed institutions like the IITs and IIMs in recent years.
He, however, admitted that private institutions do have an advantage.
�The factor of accountability is playing a role. In private institutions there is accountability on everybody to deliver because your very job is at stake if you fail. But I do not believe that there is any deliberate attempt to undermine government-run institutions. Besides, the overall resources available in private institutions may be more than in government schools. There is also the question of economics, with students in private institutions coming from families who are more equipped financially,� said Saikia.
He also said that the system of grades is also �generally better�.
�Grades reflect in a better way how students learn things. It should be adopted. Mere marks are not enough. Creativity and what the students learn are very important and grades take into account all such factors,� he added.
Former chairperson of SEBA Tabu Ram Taid said that the results from Guwahati cannot be termed as bad just because there are no rank-holders in the HSLC results from the city.
�Having a few students in the list of rank-holders is by itself not a real reflection of the results. Likewise, if a school does not secure a rank in the list of top ten students it does not mean that the standard of the institution has fallen. The average should be good. Nevertheless, there is a need for doing a proper and detailed analysis,� he said.
He said that it is good that institutions and students from smaller and far-flung areas are doing well.
�However, there are many old government-run schools, set up as far back as the British era, which are still performing well overall. Having dedicated and qualified staff helps and there is a need to improve the quality of public schools. But it is also true that good private schools which are run professionally do well, as has been proved once again,� Taid said.
He added, �I do not believe that there is any deliberate attempt to promote private schools. All of us want government-run schools to do well.�
Noted academician Dr Birendra Nath Datta said that it is a wrong notion that only the so-called �prestigious institutes� of Guwahati will always do well in the HSLC exams.
�Even Assamese medium students and students of schools located in other parts of the State have done well in the past and this result is a reflection of that trend. Even nationally also, there is a similar trend visible where students from smaller towns and villages have been performing well in recent times. However, one has to admit that private schools and institutions have done really well in recent times,� he said.
Datta said that many parents from well-to-do families nowadays do not want to send their kids to government schools.
�But that alone is not the only factor. A detailed analysis is necessary but it is certainly a good thing that places like Tihu or Pathsala have produced rank-holders during recent years. This shows that elitism is being eroded,� he said.
He added, �I do not think that there is any plan or conspiracy to promote private schools to the detriment of government institutions.�
Meanwhile, even though Guwahati may have failed to produce any rank-holder in the HSLC results, many schools from the city did remarkably well.
Assam Jatiya Bidyalay, Noonmati, secured 100 per cent pass result, with 47 of the 156 students from the school who had appeared in the HSLC exams securing �Distinction� and 70 securing �Star� marks. Of the total 156 students from the school, 151 secured first division and the remaining five secured second division.
Five students from the school got �State Highest� in English, three in General Mathematics, four in Advanced Mathematics, one in Computer Science and one in Music.
Dilip Dutta Choudhury, Chairman of Assam Jatiya Bidyalay Management Committee, said that while none of its students may have made it to the list of rank-holders �our result is overall not bad. Of course, we would have been happier if it had been even better.�
Asked about lack of rank-holders from among the school�s students, he said, �Earlier the number of HSLC candidates in the State used to be in thousands. Now it is more than 3-3.5 lakh while the number of rank-holders is a mere ten. Besides, this time there was some problem in the Social Science paper and the students on whom we were betting to make it to the list have got less marks than expected in Social Science.�
He added, �If you compare the State-wide pass percentage of 47 per cent with our school�s performance, we have done much better.�
Dutta Choudhury admitted that private schools do have certain advantages and said that the factor of motivation is missing in many instances from the government schools.
�But rank is not the main thing. Overall development of students is not merely dependent on marks,� he said.
Similarly, TC Government Girls� HS and MP School did well with a pass percentage of 92.8 per cent. Of the 125 students from the school who appeared in the HSLC exam, five got �Distinction� and nine secured �Star� marks.
Of the total candidates from the school, 70 secured first division, 42 second division and four got third division. Likewise, Hatigaon-based Blue Bell School achieved 100 per cent success with all its 17 students who appeared in the exams securing first division, and four of them securing �Distinction� and five others getting �Star� marks.