The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rap for pay-for-cause schools

Siliguri, April 25: The chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) today said commercial activity of any nature would not be entertained in any of its affiliated schools.

In a warning to the schools, Ashok Ganguly made it clear that there was no reason to take the board for granted and that the CBSE authorities might go to the extent of cancelling the affiliation of the institutions if their role in encouraging any commercial enterprise was confirmed.

'We give the schools flexibility, and autonomy to a certain extent. But if any of them is found involved in any sort of commercial activity directly or indirectly, the board would immediately dis-affiliate them,' Ganguly said.

The warning comes at a time when a number of NGOs here have been collaborating with the schools to raise funds for their projects.

A guardian of a primary student of Jearmal's Academy on condition of anonymity said: 'Off and on, the school gives donation forms of a Calcutta-based NGO. They ask the children to collect money. Not only that, an award is also announced for the collector of the highest amount. This gives rise to competition of an unhealthy nature.'

He said recently his son had brought home a backdated form ' evident from the fact that the plea on the printed matter is made by 'Indian cricket skipper Sourav Ganguly' ' to collect money.

P. Arora, another guardian of a student of Mahabert School of Dagapur, made similar complaints against the institution's authorities. 'The children put pressure on us. You cannot blame them because who would not want a certificate or a medal which these institutions offer to the best (donation) collector'

The principals of both the schools were unavailable for comment.

Guardians of several institutions complained that often the schools force students to buy books from stalls that they set up on their premises.

Though he branded all these activities 'criminal', Ganguly said he has not received any complaint so far. 'But if any CBSE-affiliated school takes us for granted and takes advantage of our flexibility, it would be wrong,' he added.

On a different note, the chairman said the board is in the process of introducing new textbooks for all classes. In a bid to make the teachers familiar with the new curriculum, the board has introduced a unique system of teachers' training called the 'sahodaya'.

Though 230 'sahodayas' have been formed across the country so far, none have come up in Siliguri where there are at least seven CBSE-affiliated schools.

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