After a dip, higher secondary students show renewed interest in science

Chandigarh-based CBSE counsellor Rakesh Sachdeva says mostly students opt for a stream under parental or peer pressure. Photo: iStockphoto

Chandigarh-based CBSE counsellor Rakesh Sachdeva says mostly students opt for a stream under parental or peer pressure. Photo: iStockphoto

New Delhi: In what could indicate a renewed interest among children to study science subjects, there has been an increase in the proportion of students enrolling in the science stream in higher secondary schools across the country.

On an average, 33% students opt for sciences in higher secondary every year. Now, according to recent Unified-District Information System on Education (U-DISE), the number of students enrolling for science subjects has increased from 6.2 million in 2014-15 to 7.9 million in 2015-16.

The period also saw a 16% increase in the enrolment of students in higher secondary education from 19.9 million in 2014-15 to 23.2 million in 2015-16.

Enrolment in sciences had dipped by 2 percentage points in the previous year, 2014-15, but the subsequent rise has cheered scientists educators who point to the need to instil a scientific temper among children.

“There are perils of lack of scientific temper in the society. So, the need is to encourage interest for science among youth, to encourage them to question,” said professor Soumitro Banerjee, from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata.

Calling it is a good sign, professor Anil Gupta from IIM-Ahmedabad, a noted scholar in grassroots innovation said, “More students in sciences would improve capabilities of society for technological advances, but it does not apparently indicate improvement in scientific temper. Science as a subject needs more attention in schools, especially in rural schools which are still struggling with ill-equipped laboratories. Scientific temper would improve only when Science is taught through experiments to create awareness, generate curiosity.”

The survey covered as many as 250,000 schools, including 170,000 in rural areas across all 36 states and Union territories. While 21.8% of higher secondary schools offered the science stream, only 32% of them had separate biology laboratories and 33.8% had separate laboratories for physics and chemistry.

However, Chandigarh-based CBSE counsellor Rakesh Sachdeva said mostly students opt for a stream under parental or peer pressure. Changing career preferences could be driving the interest in studying science subjects after a move to commerce some years ago, said Ammeta Wattal, principal of Springdales School, New Delhi.

“There has been a sort of renaissance of scientific awareness and interest in sciences has begun to resurface,” Wattal said.

Implementation of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) in Class X also led to high marks being scored by more students, said science teachers adding that it led parents to insist on their children being enrolled in the science stream — irrespective of their aptitude.

“Conventionally, high scoring students are under pressure to opt for sciences and students with high scores have been increasing in the last few years. Ten CGPA had become common,” said Sharda Dixit, Principal, Saraswati Bal Mandir School, Delhi, adding that the scrapping of CCE from this year could affect the trend.

Minister of State for HRD, Upendra Kushwaha highlighted in Rajya Sabha government initiatives taken by the government since 2015 to encourage students to learn science and mathematics, including the setting up of the Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in 2,441 schools under the Atal Innovation Mission by NITI Aayog.