Opinion: New CBSE Syllabus Will Push JEE, NEET Aspirants To Coaching
A reduction in the Class 12 syllabus, without a corresponding reduction in the JEE or NEET syllabus, will push most aspirants away from the classrooms and into the hands of coaching institutions.
Students appearing for entrance examinations for professional courses are a worried lot. The Central Board of Secondary Education, or CBSE, recently announced a drastic reduction of 30% in the syllabus for Classes 9 to 12. Soon enough, state boards followed suit announcing reductions of their own.
Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have already announced the reduction. West Bengal has announced its intent. Several other states have set up committees to recommend changes.
Already, the gap between what is taught in the classroom and the standards needed to crack the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE Main) for engineering and the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medicine is huge, forcing students to attend coaching on the side. For many Class 12 science students, the ultimate objective remains getting into Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs) or a good medical college. A reduction in the Class 12 syllabus, without a corresponding reduction in the JEE or NEET syllabus, will push most away from the classrooms and into the hands of coaching institutions.
Will the syllabus for these entrance exams be reduced? Unlikely. Prof. V Ramgopal Rao, Director, IIT Delhi in an interaction with Careers360 had this to say about JEE syllabus reduction: “For this session no. For the next year- it is not even a discussion point today. Such decisions are through multiple committees involving all the IITs and right now the first concern is conducting the current set of exams namely, JEE Main and Advanced.”
A study done by Careers360, an Edtech platform that is into online education preparing students to crack these examinations, shows that 11% of the syllabus of JEE and NEET will not be taught in Class 12 next year. For those in schools affiliated to state boards, the situation is much worse. As per the study, “An analysis of the last six years’ JEE Main question papers comprising 750 questions in total from each subject, shows that about 70 questions from Maths, 61 questions from Physics and 103 questions from Chemistry were asked from the deleted concepts. This means that about 11 % of questions in the previous JEE Main question papers were from the deleted CBSE syllabus and concepts.” The story is no different for NEET either. Many questions in NEET are from the now deleted syllabus of CBSE.
The other issue that policy-makers haven’t factored in the reduction is the interdependence of concepts. All chapters are generally interrelated and removal of one chapter makes it difficult for a child to grasp the following concept and chapter. For example, deleting momentum and Newton's Second Law of Motion will make it much harder to understand linear momentum. It would then be difficult to understand angular momentum and also solve problems related to Newton's Second Law of Motion. “Concepts like rotational equilibrium, conservation of angular momentum etc., also need an understanding of Laws of Motion”, said a teacher closely monitoring the changes made by CBSE.
The IITs do not want to reduce the standard of the JEE Advanced, a second-tier entrance exam for IIT admissions alone, so that degradation in the intake of student quality does not happen. The belief is that one exceptional year should not be changing or re-setting the standards of higher educational institutions. However, the reduced CBSE syllabus will harm the IIT and MBBS aspirants more by pushing them out of classrooms to coaching institutions.
When this was pointed out, Prof. Ramgopal Rao said, “It’s a valid point. The problem is more of supply and demand. The fact still remains that there are around 15,000 seats in all the 23 IITs and more than 1 million students aspiring to get one. So, the JEE Advanced and even JEE Main are exams to eliminate rather than to select. This is because we need to distinguish between students who are working hard for this and students who are not. Hence, the exam is tough. I can’t see how we can make anything easier. Today one knows a rank less than 5000 only has a chance at an IIT seat. One mark can cost a student a rank of 2000. In spite of various suggestions and such, this problem is tough to solve. All such solutions including modelling on the American ones are subjective and speculative. JEE is the only exam where it doesn’t matter where you are from, who you are or whether you can pay the fee etc; nothing matters.”
On the IIT system and JEE Advanced, Prof. Ramgopal Rao added, “The only solution is to build other institutes like IITs to reduce the gap between supply and demand. If we take, say the example of American universities or even admissions with other parameters introduced, the entire system will be destroyed. As we all know, admissions without merit are pretty common in India. But the IIT admissions are stringent and transparent. Nobody can influence this system. It cannot be touched by anyone and there is no tinkering allowed. This is what makes the JEE Advanced important and the IIT admissions special. Any other system right now may not work. Whether it’s good or bad is a different debate but maintaining standards is important.”
So, while MHRD and CBSE have reduced the syllabus at a class level, the move is likely to cause more harm to students aspiring to be in premier institutions.
Maheshwar Peri is founder and CEO of Careers360