Students' interest in pure sciences alarmingly low, says economic survey

Lack of guidance, dropouts in PUC, temptation to study professional courses major hurdles

Students' interest in pure sciences alarmingly low, says economic survey

Lack of career counselling, increasing dropout rates in PU and the temptation to join professional courses are not only discouraging students from studying pure science but also affecting both school education and creation of a new pool of scientists, according to the recently released ‘Economic Survey of Karnataka 2013-14’.

Out of the total 5,64,552 enrolments for I PU in 2012-13, as many as 2,22,848 students joined arts, 1,53,917 science and 1,87,787 commerce. The problem, however, is that even students who opt for science courses mostly prefer professional courses while only a handful opt for pure sciences.

The enrolment in degree courses in 2013-14 also indicates that fewer students are opting for science. While 2,38,804 students enrolled for BA, BSW courses and 2,17,519 opted for BCom, BBM, just 63,507 chose BSc and BCA put together.

The survey notes: “Graduate science courses serve as nurseries for preparation and supply for science teachers for secondary schools, as well as for creation of pool of scientists in the country. Both school education and scientific pursuits suffer because of this trend.” A variety of incentives such as the integrated five-year degree course need to be “emulated and expanded”, it adds.

Dr Venkateshappa, principal, Government Science College, says students consider employability before choosing to study a course. “Commerce graduates find jobs easily but science students ask ‘what will they get after studying BSc, especially when even engineering graduates are ready to work for Rs 12,000’,” he explained. “Thus, the chances of a BSc graduate getting a job appear slim. The problem is compounded by the fact that universities do no regularly update the science syllabi. Even basic facilities such as lab equipment are inadequate.”

The government grant of Rs one lakh for labs is also grossly inadequate. This means, even science teachers may have poor or no knowledge of the subject, he added.

Sharath Ananthamurthy, professor of physics at Bangalore University, attributes the problem to the lack of human resources and the inability to groom students. “Many rural students choose pure sciences because they cannot afford to study professional technical education. But it is wrong to assume that rural students do not do well. The real problem is that the courses do not address creative aspects in science.”

Ananthamurthy, however, said the concern was not limited to pure sciences. “What is being achieved in engineering education? Students move on to management courses and go for softer options later. There is a crisis in technical education too. The problem in general is about how undergraduate and postgraduate studies are designed.”

According to him, the solution lies in redesigning the courses and offering subjects the country could benefit from, instead of being confined to imitative courses. Moreover, universities needed to aggressively hire talent and establish close links with research institutes so that the best scientists get to teach graduate courses, he said.

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