January 9, 2013, 12:00 am
Schools affiliated to CBSE have gained popularity over the last decade. While the numbers are still heavily skewed in favour of state-affiliated institutes in the ratio of 10:1, the CBSE fad is not going unnoticed by parents. The older stalwart schools affiliated to state board too have latched on to the trend and have either started or are planning to start a new school affiliated to CBSE.
Bishop Cotton School (BCS) is a 150-year-old institution which was once included among the best in the region. Since the late 80s, the things have been on a downward spiral and its officials feel it is due to the board. Lillian Makasare, principal of BCS’ primary section, said, "Admissions have been dwindling steadily. A decade ago I had 2,000 students and this year the number is just over 700. Students from well-to-do families are shifting to CBSE schools, and since BCS does not get financial aid from the government we cannot provide free education. The latter means we lose out on students from the middle and lower middle class who shift to other schools," she said.
From the next academic session (2013-14), BCS is starting a CBSE school in its campus while keeping the state board operations intact. "Both schools will run in the same campus as we have enough space to meet the infrastructure requirements. We are convinced that starting a CBSE school will increase the enrolment figures and also help with the branding," said Makasare, whose primary section boasts of alumni such as the former CEO of Citigroup Vikram Pandit.
While popularity of CBSE schools may be a recent trend, many schools believe the quality of education is also higher.
But it is not just that CBSE is the latest fad or that its syllabus is better that appeals to schools. Urvashi Yashroy is the director of Tuli Group of Educational Institutes and started off straight with a CBSE school. "It makes sense since CBSE is a preferred board because of its national-level acceptability. Even if parents are transferred to a different city they can find many CBSE schools and there is continuity in the child’s studies," said Yashroy.
No school however wants to shut down their older set up and make way for a CBSE version, preferring to have a separate entity. N A Thamke, education officer, said, "The law does not stop them from doing it since the land and infrastructure belongs to a private registered society. The option is for schools to close down and shift to any other board."
But for older schools retaining status quo of aided state-affiliated institutions makes financial sense. As of now, teachers’ salaries are taken care of by the government and from next academic session every school will get non-salary grants as well. A principal said that midday meals, served only at financially aided and government schools, are an added attraction for lower income families. "Old schools provide a steady cash flow and are way beyond their break-even point. So no one would like to disturb that. At the same time, management is planning 15 years ahead hence it is important to start CBSE schools and expand our catchment area," said a principal.