As part of its mission to clean the education system, the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) has suspended affiliation of 88 of nearly 150 higher secondary schools and intermediate colleges inspected so far for allegedly failing to meet the criteria required.
In all, 212 institutions granted BSEB affiliation during the two-year tenure of Lalkeshwar Prasad Singh as the Board’s chairman are under the scanner in the aftermath of the Bihar Board toppers’ scam, and the related school affiliation scam.
Named the kingpin of both scams, Singh and his wife, former MLA Usha Sinha, have been arrested.
“We have completed inspection of 150 schools and inter-colleges and found that 88 of them were given affiliation over the last three academic sessions in contravention of norms. We are identifying officials responsible for these lapses (and will) book them,” BSEB chairman Anand Keshore said.
Inspection of the remaining 62 schools in the list would be completed within a fortnight, said Keshore, who succeeded Singh after his resignation early June.
Keshore said the inspection team took into consideration 18 criteria on which affiliation is to be given to a higher secondary school or inter-college, and found that most of the institutions scrutinised so far failed to meet them.
The BSEB’s affiliation norms are almost similar to those of CBSE. Among the criteria, a higher secondary school or inter-college is required to own land of 2 to 7 acres, depending on proposed or existing strength of students and faculty; at least six classrooms of minimum 30×25 feet to accommodate 40 students; a functioning library; separate laboratories for Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography and Home Science, and a permanent faculty of at least three teachers in each subject.
The Indian Express had recently published a series of reports on Bihar’s “Schools of Scandal” to highlight how institutions with bare minimum infrastructure — some even operating on paper without students and teachers — had been granted affiliation by the state Board during Singh’s tenure as its chairman.
Patna’s SSP Manu Maharaj, who heads the special investigation team probing the related education scams, told The Indian Express: “Our interrogation of 25 of the 32 accused — these include Lalkeshwar Singh, his wife Usha Sinha and principal of controversial VR College Amit Kumar — suggests that one private plus-two (higher secondary) school and inter-college got BSEB affiliation by paying Rs 4-5 lakh.”
Experts and officers who have earlier worked in the Education or HRD departments said one of the reasons so many private institutions got affiliation so fast — most of them bypassing norms — is ironically due to the increase in school enrollment under the Nitish Kumar government. At nearly 15 lakh or 16 lakh, the number of Class X students under Bihar Board has seen nearly a three-fold jump since Nitish took over as the chief minister in November 2005. The problem, these officers said, was that the state’s colleges could enroll only about 10-12 lakh students till recently.
In the ensuing rush, 184 private institutions got affiliation during Lalkeshwar Prasad’s two-year tenure. In contrast, only about 40 institutions had been granted affiliation by BSEB during his predecessor Rajmani Prasad Singh’s tenure.