Toppers flunk: 50% Class­-10 merit students in Punjab fail talent test

Barely two months after chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh expressed his displeasure at just 57% pass percentage in Class-10 exams in the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB), questions are being raised on the quality of toppers as well.
Sample this: Only around half (50%) of Class-10 toppers (students with a score of 80% and above) who applied for a seat at 10 government-run Meritorious Schools in the state have cleared the entrance test for admission to Class-11 this year.
The government spends Rs 40 crore a year on Meritorious Schools in the state.

  • A brainchild of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, these schools were started in 2014 on the lines of Bihar’s famed ‘Super-30’. Only students scoring 80% and above in the PSEB are eligible to take the entrance test.
  • There are 10 schools, affiliated to the PSEB, offering admission in Class 11. The aim is to place deserving students in professional colleges at the national level and train them, free of cost.
  • The schools, that offer 4,100 seats, are located in Amritsar, Bhatinda, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Mohali, Ferozepur and Sangrur.

A brainchild of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, these schools were started in 2014 on the lines of Bihar’s famed ‘Super-30’. The schools aim to nurture bright matriculates from government schools and prepare them for admission to professional colleges after Class 12, free of cost.
The government spends Rs 40 crore a year on these schools that offer 4,100 seats. This year, only 2,700 students have qualified.
In the entrance test, most of the 5,000 students who took the test could not answer questions like ‘What is the plural of fish’; ‘Name the biggest planet in the Universe’ and so on. The passing marks at the entrance test were 33%. The test comprises 50-mark papers each, in English, maths and science.
The authorities will now conduct a re-test on August 2 ‘only to accommodate the less competent students’, sources said. The test was re-conducted last year as well, with 1,400 seats going vacant.
An officer of the society that runs Meritorious Schools told HT that even of 2,700 students who have qualified, most have scored less than 70 marks on 150.
Ludhiana produced the largest number of students with 80% or more, but also has the largest failure rate.
“The idea was to groom backward and poor, but deserving students and to train them to gain entry to professional courses. However, many undeserving students are getting in, defeating the purpose of setting up of these schools,” said former vice-chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) Prof Ajaib Singh Brar. Brar had suggested the concept to Badal.
A search for reasons and several conversations with teachers revealed that mass copying and the policy of no-detention policy (now in the process of being phased out) till Class-8 has led to the situation.
“You cannot fail students till Class 8. Many schools are short off staff and where the teachers strength is good they are deployed in non-teaching work like elections, population surveys etc,” a teacher from Hoshirpur district said.
She added, “On top of this, you have a system where the ACR of a teacher is based on the results. Mass copying then results,” she claimed
Director general, school education, Punjab Parshant Kumar Goyal said, “We are concerned. I have ordered officers to check if the question paper in the entrance was tough or is the students’ performance poor.”