The mushrooming of ICSE schools with sub-standard infrastructure and poor management has prompted the Delhi-based Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations to tighten the screening process for affiliation.
The fact of quality control is now showing in figures ' not a single new school in the city has been granted ICSE affiliation since July. Last year, the council had granted affiliation to over 100 schools across the country, including over a dozen in Calcutta.
This year, the schools refused affiliation are located mostly in Calcutta, with a few applications coming in from the districts. All these applicants had obtained the no-objection-certificates from the state government.
Among a list of criteria the schools must fulfil for affiliation (see box), most new schools are struggling to meet the space stipulation of being built on at least two acres.
Rita Wilson, deputy secretary of the council, said from Delhi that the council was determined to ensure that every institution under its umbrella offered quality education. 'We had framed these rules some years ago. We are now trying to enforce them,' she stressed.
'We have noticed the tendency among new schools to resemble concrete jungles without any play fields,' added an official. 'We must discourage this trend. So, affiliation is being rejected on this ground as well.'
Sources in the council's Delhi office revealed that the 'stringency drive' also includes measures to check 'mismanagement and corruption' in existing schools.
So, the council has written to every affiliated institution to ensure that the rules of teacher appointments are strictly followed.
Schools have also been directed to pay salaries through banks for the sake of transparency regarding the amounts being handed over, as 'some complaints' have been received on this count.
'The development is significant because the council has realised that the new schools that are coming under its umbrella do not have the same mission and vision as those which had come up in the past,' said Ismail Nehal, president, Association of Teachers of Anglo-Indian Schools.
'Till a few decades ago, the ICSE schools were mostly run by the Christian missionaries, who endeavoured to offer quality education in the English medium. This concept has changed and now an ICSE school is set up more as a business proposition,' he added.
To stem the rot, the council has stepped in to deny affiliation to institutes that do not make the grade.