Letter | Published:

Science and the Public Service

Abstract

WHILST sincerely regretting the new scheme of openly cutting down the science marks in the army examinations, I think it is not so much the low maximum of marks supposed to be attainable which is discouraging the science subjects, as the low marks actually given at all Government examinations (excepting the Indian Woods and Forests) to any one who is so unwise as to take up natural science. To take, as an example, the Indian Civil Service marks of last year. While in French and German, each of which is a 500 subject, more than 30 per cent, of the candidates obtained over 200 marks; in chemistry, which is also a 500 subject, only two out of thirty-two, or 6 per cent., scored over 200. The marks in the other subjects included in the fatal column of natural science are equally low. Now I do not think that any one will maintain that science is not properly taught at Clifton, Dulwich, &c., yet in French and German a boy has every chance of obtaining 100 marks more than in chemistry (the highest marks last year were—chemistry 229, French 325, German 347). Two possibilities present themselves: either the clever boys will not take up science subjects at all owing to the low marks persistently given, or the examiners expect more chemical knowledge from a boy of eighteen (who must take mathematics or classics, English, &c., in addition to chemistry) than he can possibly acquire. I trust that examiners may be induced to seriously consider the last possibility.

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