A proposed legislation to make the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) a statutory body, the draft of which is in circulation among the States for comments, has made Education Department officials of States apprehensive. They fear that it will result in hundreds of elite schools affiliated to the Board going completely beyond their monitoring mechanism.
While the rules of the Right to Education (RTE) Act give an important role to the Education Departments in ensuring compliance with the Central legislation on free and universal education, the draft of the CBSE Bill, 2013 (a copy of which is available with The Hindu ), is completely silent on their role.
As per the draft, the only role of the Education Department is during affiliation and even this role is nominal. The draft states that a school seeking affiliation with the CBSE should give “copies of application along with all documents to the State government or union territory administration concerned.” If the State government does not raise any objections within 90 days, it is deemed to have “no objection” to granting affiliation.
However, beyond this, States seem to have no role in monitoring the schools. The draft provides no clarity on what the role of the Education Department officials would be on a host of issues related to implementation of the RTE act, such as ensuring 25 per cent reservation to children of weaker sections and disadvantaged groups in private schools.
Would this mean that the Education Department is no longer the “appropriate authority” to implement the act, wonder officials. Interestingly, under the head of “duties and obligations of affiliated schools,” the draft makes no mention of the 25 per cent reservation issue, which is a very important component of the RTE. This clause has led to major debates on the role of private and government schools in providing quality education to all.
States, including Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, raised some of these objections during a recent meeting of State Education Secretaries convened by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to discuss the Bill in New Delhi. Nearly 700 schools across Karnataka are currently affiliated to the CBSE.
“Education is a subject on the concurrent list and we fear that this legislation would create a parallel administration, the nature of which is not certain. Synchronisation between departments, which is crucial for implementing the RTE in letter and spirit, will be difficult unless the State governments have a clearly defined role in the legislation,” said a department official here. The other thorny issue would be how a “minority institution” is to be defined, if the State’s definition does not hold good for Centrally-administered schools.
As per the draft, the only role of the State Education Department is during affiliation and even this role is nominal
The draft makes no mention of the 25 per cent reservation issue, which is a very important component of the RTE