Centre plans to regulate ‘international’ schools

Anita Joshua

Schools set up by foreign diplomatic missions will be excluded

This is the first attempt to regulate such schools

Affiliation with only boards having strong credentials

NEW DELHI: Armed with Home Ministry’s clearance, the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry plans to approach the Cabinet with a proposal aimed at regulating “international” schools except those set up by foreign diplomatic missions. The policy will be applicable to schools using the word ‘international’ in their name as well as those affiliated to foreign boards such as Cambridge International Examination (CIE) or International Baccalaureate (IB).

This is the first attempt made by the government to regulate such schools which have mushroomed all over the country without any proper regulatory framework.

In 1998, India had only two schools affiliated to IB. In 2006, their number stood at 33. And, the number of schools in India affiliated to CIE is 148.

That the number of schools affiliated to international boards ran into triple digit came to light only when a committee of experts was set up by the Ministry under the former Education Secretary, P.R. Dasgupta.

This committee was set up after Indian missions overseas reported to the External Affairs Ministry a sudden surge in applications for employment visa in India for teaching jobs.

Growing demand

Conceding that these schools have come up in view of the growing demand for an international board certificate — the perception being that this makes it easier to get into a foreign university and facilitates trans-national employability — the Ministry plans to rein them in not through legislation but through a policy framework stipulating certain requirements.

Schools seeking affiliation to an international board will have to get their proposal screened by a mandated authority with representatives from the Centre, State governments, Indian education boards and prominent educationists, including one from the international board system.

Schools will be allowed to affiliate with only boards having well established credentials such as CIE/IB and not any overseas board.

Given the disparity in salaries paid to foreigners and Indians teaching in such schools, the policy also seeks to bridge the gap but Ministry officials concede that the government would be treading on thin ice. Just as it would be unreasonable to expect foreign nationals to come and teach in India on Indian teaching scales, it would not be possible to get such schools to pay Indian teachers the higher salaries doled out to foreigners. While the government proposes to suggest only greater pay parity as of now, the policy will put a 20 per cent ceiling on the number of foreign teachers that can be recruited by such schools.

In the case of schools affiliated to Indian boards using the word ‘international’ in their name, there is a demand to bar such usage. Apprehensive of resistance to this move, the plan is to give such schools some time to drop the word ‘international’ from their name.