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Majority students under Southern boards take Science in Class 11: Study

South India accounts for four of the five sizable states where students in grades XI-XII prefer Science, the study said

Most students from South boards take Science in Class 11

Photo: Representative | PTI

BS Web Team New Delhi
There are significant regional differences in the academic streams that students choose for high school in the country, with Science being the overwhelmingly popular choice among students in most southern states and Arts receiving very little interest, a Union government study said on Wednesday.

The fact that there are so many schools in the southern states that offer courses in engineering and medicine has long been a sign of the skew, but this is the first time that the Centre has really looked into it.

PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development), a new division under the NCERT created to address such disparities, will examine this in more detail.

Top states where the Science stream is popular

According to the study, students in the Science stream outnumbered those in the Arts stream by a large margin in Andhra Pradesh (75.63 per cent), Telangana (64.59 per cent), Tamil Nadu (61.50 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (57.13 per cent), and Kerala (44.50 per cent) for the academic year 2021–2022. 

In Manipur, up to 68.87 per cent of students who took the Class XII board exams opted for Science. 

South India accounts for four of the five sizable states where students in grades XI–XII prefer Science, the study said.

States where Arts is preferred

The top five states where Arts was the most popular choice in 2022 were Gujarat (81.55 per cent), West Bengal (78.94 per cent), Punjab (72.89 per cent), Haryana (73.76 per cent), and Rajasthan (71.23 per cent), showing a wider geographic spread than Science. 

In the Northeast, Arts was the popular choice in Meghalaya (82.62), Tripura (85.12 per cent), and Nagaland (79.62 per cent). 

Officials from the Ministry of Education claimed that despite the study only including preferences from the class of 2022, the data is indicative of long-term trends.

What about the Commerce stream?

The study claims that the Commerce stream, which has an average national enrollment of 14 per cent of students, "has stagnated at the same level over the last decade."

On the other hand, over the same period, the proportion of students choosing Science and the Arts increased from 31 per cent to over 40 per cent (national average). What is notable is that, in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu, where Science is the dominant stream, the preference for Commerce is significantly higher than the national average.

In these states, Arts students made up only 1.53 per cent, 2.01 per cent, and 2.19 per cent, respectively, of the 2022 board examination population.

As many as 32 per cent of high school students enrolled in the state education board of Tamil Nadu in 2022 chose to major in Commerce, compared to 23.54 per cent in Telangana and 13.64 per cent in Andhra Pradesh. The vocational stream, which has few enrollees in most other states, had 9.85 per cent and 8.5 per cent of students respectively in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Do these trends continue at the higher education level as well?

Numerous facts demonstrate the preference for the Science stream in South India. 

According to the council's 2022–23 handbook, there are 1,229 institutions offering engineering and technological courses in the five states of south India that have received approval from the All India Council for Technical Education (including 9 in Puducherry and 1 in Lakshadweep). These institutions have a 5.11 lakh student intake capacity. This ranking is the highest of any region.

In 2022–2023, Tamil Nadu alone had 13.8 lakh students enrolled in engineering and technical courses, the highest among all states. 

According to a response provided by the Ministry of Health in the Lok Sabha in April last year, out of the 596 medical colleges (both public and private) in India, as many as 225, or 37.7 per cent, are in the states of Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh.

Additionally, some hints in this regard can be found in the JEE advanced scores. For instance, in 2022, IIT Bombay and IIT Madras both had 29 candidates among the top 100 institutions.

Even in 2021, the south zone produced 27 candidates in this category, third only to the IIT Bombay and Delhi zones. The zones that correspond to the states of eastern and northeastern India lag far behind. Telangana had the most students who scored a perfect score in JEE Main 2023, followed by Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Why did the government choose this area for a study?

The study examined many factors, including pass rates and dropout rates, and sought to bring about parity in assessment among different educational boards. However, the trends in the choice of academic streams are the most significant, as parameters like dropout rates can also be gleaned from other sources, such as the Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+), while passing percentages of various boards are publicly available. 

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First Published: May 31 2023 | 9:21 PM IST

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