The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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PSU scare for schools

New Delhi, June 14: Policymakers and educationists are apprehensive of opening up India’s secondary education sector to the international market.

“We believe Indian school boards of examination may suffer the same fate as public sector undertakings once they are forced to face international competition,” P.C Vyas, the chairperson of the board of secondary education in Rajasthan, told a two-day seminar organised by the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration.

By September, India, as required by the World Trade Organisation agreement, will have to indicate the areas it is willing to open up in the services sector and to what extent.

Policymakers say the Centre is still not flexible enough to meet the challenges that this shift in the education sector could pose. “We are still refusing to change,” said D.V. Sharma of the Central Organisation of Board of Secondary Education.

Officials in the human resources development ministry also held a meeting yesterday to discuss a multi-pronged strategy to serve their interests in the face of stiff international competition in the education sector. Reluctant to reveal much, officials said the Centre was exploring its options before putting together a final blueprint at the international forum.

The institute said policymakers must work towards a “future relationship” between national and international boards and identify the possibilities for the operation of Indian boards abroad. Some foreign boards are functioning in India.

At the seminar, most participants pointed to the gulf that separates the syllabus followed by Indian boards and that of their international counterparts.

Eighty per cent of secondary education at present is in the public sector under the state school boards. “The quality and capacity of the public school system is totally incapable of withstanding any international competition,” said Sharma.

The two national boards of examination — the Central Board of Secondary Education and the Indian Council for Secondary Education — have their own syllabus and systems of appraisal.

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