Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia Monday said the Delhi government would consider setting up its own education board “if the CBSE keeps making arbitrary decisions”.
This comes after the CBSE revised its exam fee structure across the country, raising it from Rs 150 per subject to Rs 300 per subject for all students. In Delhi, CBSE also had a special exam fee arrangement for SC/ST students of Rs 350 for five subjects, of which students paid Rs 50 and the state government reimbursed Rs 300. Now, this has been increased to Rs 1,200 for five papers.
Sisodia claimed that the Delhi government has been opposing a fee hike in meetings with CBSE officials. “We have been opposing this in meetings. Last month, our officials met them regarding this but they went ahead and did it anyway… CBSE keeps making arbitrary decisions without taking Delhi government into consideration, despite us being the largest stakeholder,” he said.
According to a CBSE official, the exam fee was hiked on account of additional costs that will be incurred to strengthen conduct of exam. “We will try and meet officials from the government on Tuesday and resolve this matter…,” the official said.
“Since last year, we have made many changes which, cumulatively, have led to increased cost… For instance, we have deployed extra observers for each day in each centre. We have had capacity building workshops for our paper setters and evaluators. We have also increased the number of evaluators by 40%. We also started six new regional offices last year… CBSE does not receive any grants from the government,” said another senior CBSE official.
There are 2,143 schools affiliated with the CBSE in Delhi, of the total of 22,456 schools affiliated with the board. While government schools in states follow the respective state education boards, Delhi, like other Union Territories, follows CBSE even in government schools. It is the Union Territory with the largest number of government schools. Further, private schools and those run by central government are affiliated to CBSE.
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“Given that we are the board’s largest partner, they can’t just force their decisions on us… We are seriously considering setting up our own board,” said Sisodia.
In a ceremony in June to honour students who scored above 90% in board exams, the Delhi government had promised that it would henceforth cover the board examination fee for all students in schools run by it.
In view of the fee hike, officials said the government will carry out its commitment and they are calculating the cost the government would have to bear for this.
“No government school student will bear the financial burden of this fee hike. In the next week, we will put out a proposal to address this issue,” said an education department official.
The senior CBSE official said the exam fee has always been the same across the country: “Delhi government school students used to pay Rs 50 and the balance was paid by the government. If Delhi government’s policy remains unchanged, students will continue to pay Rs 50, but Delhi government will have to pay the hiked fee.”