The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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State scan on English schools

For years, they have mushroomed without a monitor. Not any more, says the state government, poised to take a closer look at the way English-medium schools are being run.

This is a preamble to the setting up of a committee to scan — and, wherever necessary, review — the functioning of these institutions.

More than 300 English-medium schools, that have come up during the 26 years of Left rule, will for the first time come under the state scanner.

And everything, from curriculum to infrastructure, quality of education to pay-structure, will be open to question. Also likely to be brought under the purview of the committee are the 67 Anglo-Indian schools that depend on the state government for financial assistance and were set up before 1977.

“Our policy does not allow for interference in the internal matters of the 300-odd schools that do not take any financial help from us,” state school education minister Kanti Biswas said on Friday. “But we now find that there is an urgent need to run some sort of a check.”

The necessity was felt, he explained, following reports that the schools were not adhering to prescribed norms. “A thorough inspection of these schools is necessary, as some complaints we receive are very serious,” asserted Biswas.

Officials of the department explained that the schools had failed to set up the kind of infrastructure they had promised to the government.

“We often receive complaints that teachers are not being paid the right salary and there are even instances of schools shutting down because of the resultant unrest,” said an official.

The 300-odd institutions that are unaided and affiliated to boards other than the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education comprise the ‘listed’ component.

At a recent meeting of the State Board for Anglo-Indian Schools, a section of teachers and heads of the older Anglo-Indian schools demanded that the government treat the ‘listed’ schools as a separate category.

“The quality of education imparted at the 67 Anglo-Indian schools ranks far above that in the more recent institutions. We don’t want to be clubbed with them,” said Anglo-Indian community MLA Gillian D’Costa Hart. This discordant note provided the spark for the state-scan move.

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