February 28, 2014, 1:25 pm
Schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) will have to stop conducting courses that integrate the regular syllabus and coaching for competitive exams like the Joint Entrance Examination for admission to the IITs, the board has said.
In a circular criticizing schools for commercializing education, CBSE directed principals of all institutions affiliated to the board to immediately stop offering such coaching programmes as part of the regular workday or otherwise.
"It has been reported that some of the schools are running coaching institutions on the school premises under the pretext of providing preparations for entrance examinations. This is not approved by the board and schools need to stop such malpractices immediately," said the CBSE circular from CBSE secretary Joseph Immanuel to principals. It said the board is liable to take "appropriate action" against schools that do not adhere to conditions stipulated in CBSE’s affiliation bylaws.
The board said parents, teachers, students and the public in general had expressed serious concern about the trend, stating that it put undue pressure on students.
Parents had mixed reactions to the ban and schools in the city that offer the integrated programme said they will follow the board’s rules but also look for a way around a complete ban on the classes, most likely by pushing them outside regular school hours.
With the competition rising for seats in the country’s premier technical and medical institutions several schools have tied up with coaching institutes to conduct integrated programmes to train students during class hours for both the board examinations and competitive tests like JEE. Some of these schools charge as much as Rs 4 lakh to 6 lakh for the courses they conduct as a package from Classes 8 to 12. Some schools use the courses as a selling point and others say the coaching provides value addition.
The board has in recent years introduced reforms such as grades in place of marks for the Class 10 boards, school or board exam optional for Class 10 and a continuous and comprehensive evaluation system for all classes, to make schooling more stress-free for children.
The circular said CBSE schools should not be used for any commercial activity. Every school should ensure that it teaches students the subjects in the syllabus prescribed by the board. "No coaching classes or parallel classes should be run in the school that consumes and affects the regular timetable of the school or that [affects] the focus of students on the regular course of study," it said.
Some stakeholders appeared unaware of the board’s move. FIITJEE’s Tamil Nadu regional head Ankur Kumar Jain said the coaching centre had been in operation for several years and did not face any hitch. "Our management has been conducting this popular programme which I am sure has been properly validated," he said. "We are not doing anything illegal. We are only working to help students improve their academic skills."
Schools in Chennai like Maharishi Vidya Mandir, which offers the integrated school programme with FIITJEE, said the school will obey the CBSE norms. "We will shift the programme to after-school hours, and extend the school time," the principal of the school said.
Some parents welcomed the board’s move, but others said it would only make things harder for their children if they are forced to enroll at separate coaching institutes.
"Not all students are part of the programme. So it feels like there’s a difference between the education that children get even though they are in the same class," said the mother of a student. "I’ll be happy if the board puts a stop to coaching classes. Parents intent on sending their children for coaching can do it after or before school hours as they did earlier," she added.
"It was a relief to know the school conducted the programme, because we didn’t have to arrange for my son to attend coaching classes somewhere else," said a parent with a child in the programme.