What CBSE Clean Sweep and DU Admissions Tell Us About CUET and Kerala’s ‘Marks Jihad’ | Tech US News

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“From 120 to 1”, announced the address news on the front page of the newspaper Indian Express newspaper. This was the approximate number of students from Kerala who were admitted to a particular course in one of the colleges of Delhi University. So far, only one student from this country seems to have managed to secure admission to the Political Science course at Hindu College, while 120 students were admitted last year:

“… the admission lists of some colleges are showing a marked change this year – the effect of switching to admissions based on Common University Entrance Test (CUET) results instead of Class XII board exam results. Last year, of the 146 students admitted to the BA (Hons) Political Science program at Hindu College through the first two cut-off lists, 124 were from state school boards – 120 from the Kerala board, 3 from Rajasthan and 1 from Haryana.

“This year, while the second round of seat allotment is still going on, only one of the 59 admitted students so far is from the state board – the Kerala board. The pitch has a permitted number of 49 seats.”

The report only talks about the first list. At least three more lists are still to come. But, the newspaper says, the number of Kerala students admitted to other DU colleges has also decreased.

Another one leading newspaper headline says “After CUET, Kerala Board students move from second highest to seventh in DU”. The report said students from Kerala Board have ‘slipped’ to the seventh position, while CBSE remains on top this year as well, followed by Council for Indian School Examination (CISCE). The state education boards of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana have been ranked higher than the Kerala board after the second round of seat allocation.

We are told that this is the impact of the new admission process through CUET, which has downgraded board exam results to a qualifying grade and assured that “the anomaly that often occurs with students of a particular board filling up more seats due to ‘inflation of marks’ is not came.”

The decline in the number of students from Kerala is a reality, at least as far as the first rounds are concerned, as is the fact that it follows the introduction of CUET as a single entrance exam for all central educational institutions.

But if the old system allowed for ‘anomalies’ – one alleged example of this was the large number of Kerala students admitted to DU – are we so sure that there are no ‘anomalies’ with the CUET based admission process ?

To answer this, we need to look at the background of the “Kerala” issue at Delhi University.

In 2021, there was an uproar of students from Kerala ‘invading’ the political science department of a Hindu college and occupying all the seats. One teacher claimed Kerala conducting “Mark’s Jihad”. The allegation was that the Kerala Board had devised a way to inflate the marks to win seats in Delhi University.

This absurd allegation led to an investigation by the university. The commission analyzed data on admission based on the declared threshold number of exam points and found that among the 39 school boards from which students applied, the highest intake of students was from CBSE (37,767), followed by Kerala Board of Higher Secondary Education (1,890), Haryana Board of School Education (1,824), CISCE ( 1,606) and Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (1329).

The maximum number of seats – nearly 38,000 – went to students from the CBSE board. The Kerala board was next on the list. But the number of students from Kerala board who got admission was barely 5% of those from CBSE. Right behind Kerala was the Haryana board.

Then why did they blame and demonize Kerala? Why was there no talk of the “Haryana Conspiracy”? Even if there was a presumptive entitlement of CBSE students to occupy all the seats in Delhi University, Kerala (or Haryana) students did nothing to challenge it as CBSE board students secured almost 80% of all DU seats.

It is also fair to ask what happened to the board’s assurance “essential objectivity”. Although the report notes that Delhi University – as a central university – is responsible for ensuring absolute fairness in admissions to all post-secondary boards covering various states and union territories, tthe gap between CBSE and other boards has widened this year.

2022 brought with it almost complete coverage by CBSE. It is becoming clear that it is the CBSE that has gained the most from the new centralized admission process. Is it happy for Delhi University that the number of students from a state like Kerala – the state with the best educational indicators – has drastically reduced and their already CBSE-dominated intake is being further homogenised?

It is not difficult to understand the bias in CUET in favor of CBSE, which is officially based on the NCERT syllabus. Of course, it is not only the Kerala board that is at a disadvantage, but other state boards as well. Given the design of CUET, it was expected that most of the state board students would be displaced by CBSE students. What about the claim that CUET corrects the ‘anomaly’ that often occurs with students of a particular board filling multiple seats? This is what we need to think about and address.

We never think about the fact that the highly privileged CBSE is a much smaller board compared to other state boards. Why do we think it is absolutely unproblematic for a smaller board to take the largest number of seats while the much larger state boards lag behind? What happened to the idea of ​​justice or equality?

It has often been pointed out that CBSE needs a course correction. Students getting 100% marks in political science, English or other subjects is not something to be celebrated. The whole idea of ​​model answers that CBSE examiners have to stick to while marking papers leads to rote learning. We also need to look at how CBSE – because it has priority over all national entrance exams, just like NEET – affects other boards, especially state boards. Is it good for everyone to become CBSE copies? Is this legally fair to all countries?

Representative picture of students in line for the entrance exam. Photo: PTI

We need to look carefully at the profile of students entering universities like DU. Is the body diverse, does it represent several language groups or not? That students from a state far away from Delhi want to come to Delhi University should be a celebration.

In fact, one of us was very excited when – during the public consultation on curriculum review conducted by SCERT Kerala – we had the opportunity to listen to students of class 12 about the changes they wanted in their school curriculum. One remembers the bold suggestions and changes that the government school girls made spontaneously, undaunted by the presence of higher officials. He also vividly remembers the sparkle in some people’s eyes when they talked about the program they wanted the most – Political Science at Delhi University. They dream of participating in the cosmopolitan experience that a university like DU is supposed to offer.

What we saw last year was an ugly display of North Indian nationalist parochialism that portrayed Kerala students as a threat. It is unfortunate that the university felt compelled to launch an investigation because of this outcry. What was worse was that it did not categorically debunk the conspiracy theory.

PostScript: More worryingly, it was also reported last week about four students from the country attacked, allegedly by some ABVP members, for wearing their national costume. Suspicion and hatred towards students from Kerala could be the reason behind the attack. One report says the attackers were drunk, but is it unreasonable to assume that disinformation about a “Kerala conspiracy” to capture Delhi University could have played a role in the attack?

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