They are known for their excellent standards of teaching and learning. However, whether it be the International Baccalaureate (Switzerland) or the Cambridge International Examination (Britain), prominent foreign boards granting affiliations to private schools in India are not regulated by any government authority in India. The ministry of human resource development (MHRD) has no information on the number of such boards operating in India, an RTI has revealed. In its response to the RTI, MHRD has also suggested that the ministry of external affairs would be better placed to give the information.
The RTI by HT Education seeking information on the number of foreign education boards in India revealed that MHRD had no regulatory mechanism to keep a watch on the foreign boards. When asked in the RTI to name the boards and the statutory provision under which they had been granted permission to operate in India, chief public information officer (CPIO) Kundan Nath’s response was: “The information sought by you is not maintained in School-3 section of the ministry. However, you may contact the concerned authorities in the Ministry of External Affairs, in this regard.”
Emails by this correspondent to Vikas Swarup, spokesperson and joint secretary in the ministry of external affairs did not get a response. Various state governments, too, could not throw light on the matter. “We don’t know how many foreign boards are present in Delhi. We haven’t laid down any guidelines on this issue,” says a senior official from the department of secondary education, Delhi government.
NK Jarag, director, secondary education, Maharashtra, says no permissions have been granted to such boards to grant affiliations to any school. However, he admits that a large a number of schools have taken affiliations from the boards.
Senior education officials from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana also say they do not have the exact number of foreign boards because the boards do not have to take permissions from the state governments before granting affiliations to schools.
Opening a school requires, among other permissions, a no-objection-certificates (NOC) from the education department of a state government. The question as to which board is affiliating the school is never asked. “This system is followed in every state. Schools are recognised and granted NOCs after fulfilling certain requirements related to physical infrastructure, academic staff, fire safety etc. After completing all formalities they are free to choose any education board they want. It could be the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), any foreign board or their own state education board. And that’s where the crux of the problem lies,” says a senior MHRD education officer.
Interestingly, students passing from schools affiliated to foreign boards are also getting equivalence certificates from the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), a body authorised by MHRD to grant equivalence to foreign qualifications for pursuing higher education in India. However, experts have questioned the standards followed by AIU in granting equivalence for foreign degrees and secondary and higher secondary certificates. For a foreign degree, one of AIU’s mandatory conditions is that a candidate should have appeared for the examination (for the degree) in the country where his or her university is. There is no such condition for granting equivalence for school certificates.
When questioned on the same, Prof Furqan Qamar, secretary general, AIU, says the association has in place stringent measures to check the authenticity of any certificate submitted for equivalence. AIU, he clarifies, recognises the system of education from across all countries of the world and equivalence is granted provided that (i) the foreign system of education prescribes a minimum of 12 years of regular schooling; (ii) the school is affiliated by a Board that has been approved/recognised; (iii) the school leaving certificate has been issued by the Board that has been approved/recognised /accredited in the country concerned.
AIU has in a number of other cases obtained the following documents: (a) A copy of the Accreditation Status issued by the concerned accrediting agency; (b) Approval/recognition letter issued by the state government to the school; (c) A letter from the principal of the awarding school stating therein that candidate was a full time student on the campus of the school stating therein the period; (d) Grade 10 & 12 certificate of the concerned board and mark sheet; (e) Academic transcript and completion certificate, Qamar adds.
However, Prof Qamar agrees that giving equivalence doesn’t mean AIU has granted recognition or approval to run these foreign boards in India.