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Faced with regular onslaught of agrarian crisis like droughts, surplus production, farm loan debt and other issues, Maharashtra government has decided to include related subjects for out of school working students. Subjects like Agriculture Science and Technology, Agriculture Allied Vocations, Animal Husbandry will be available for those out of school working students under the newly set up Maharashtra State Open School Board (MSOSB). The agriculture related subjects will be available to students who are appearing for SSC and HSC level exams, a Government Resolution (GR) issued here stated. Official sources in the school education department said the syllabus for these vocational subjects will be drawn up by education experts of the state board. Moreover, the MSOSB will function under the State Secondary and Higher Secondary Boards. The official further added that unlike the National Open Inclusive Schooling (NIOS) policy of the Centre, the state will be offering such vocational courses from 5th level grade commensurate with 5th standard in regular schools. The aim of the State Open Schooling Policy is to bring failed and drop out students into the main stream and for literate adults who could not continue further education. The MSOSB will offer vocational courses that will include skill development. The GR states that between Standard Ist to Standard Xth about 5 lakh students dropout at various stages of schooling. Ever since the state board allowed students to appear for SSC and HSC exams privately, about 1 lakh to 1.50 lakh students have been appearing for these exams. However, in the present system the students did not have any flexibility in choosing subjects and had to follow the learning process of students from regular schools. Under the MSOSB, those students enrolling themselves under Open School Board will have the flexibility to study, flexibility in syllabus and vocational subjects. The minimum age for enrolling at level five is 10 years, level eight is 13 years, level 10 is 15 years and level 12th is 17 years. Students in level 10th and level 12th will be able to opt for vocational subjects like agriculture science and technology, gardening science, allied agricultural vocations, agricultural education and animal husbandry and technology. The registration of students will be valid for next five years and will be entitled to nine attempts.
But the students will have to pass any five of the eight subjects. The marking system for the four levels of exam varies between 50 marks written and 50 marks orals at primary level five, to 80 marks written and 20 marks for orals to Higher Secondary level that is at par with the HSC. The students can attempt all the subjects at one exam or in stages in exams held in March-April or October-November. The students will be given study modules on subjects in the form of books and compact discs. Plans are to start broadcast of subject materials on Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR).
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