CBSE's experiment to promote the education of girl children by ordering all CBSE-affilated schools to provide free education from classes VI-XII to girls who are the single child of their parents has come to an end even before it could be implemented. The CBSE has watered down its order and made it optional for private CBSE-affiliated schools to consider offering free education to single girl children in classes IX-XII, apparently after being provided with legal advice that indicated that its original order may not be defensible in court. But it is a story that ends well with a silver lining emerging in the form of government funded scholarships of Rs. 500/- per student per month given to single girl children in classes IX-XII in all CBSE-affiliated schools.
In future, I hope the Government floats such ideas first to be able to get a pulse of the both legal and public opinion, before making it an order or law. The CBSE could have saved itself a lot of trouble if it had floated the idea and asked for feedback from all CBSE-affiliated schools as well as legal opinion on whether such an order would be defensible in court.
You may be aware that in many countries available indicators show that the girl child is discriminated against from the earliest stages of life, through her childhood and into adulthood. It may not be out of place to mention here that India is one of those countries in the world in which men outnumber women. The reasons for this can be attributed to, among other things, indifferent attitudes and practices against girl child including their health and well being. It has generally been observed that girl child is discriminated against in the matter of education also. The ratio of drop outs for girls at different levels of education is more than that for the boys
To remedy the situation, the Central Board of Secondary Education has already made a provision in its Examination Bye-Laws that girl candidates, who are bonafide residents of the National Capital Territory of Delhi can appear in Class X and Class XII Examinations of the Board as Private Candidates.
In order to further promote education for girl child, an amendment in the Affiliation Bye-Laws of the Board has now been made that all the affiliated schools will grant full waiver of all fees (including tuition fee and all other fees under any head except the meals and transportation fee) charged by them from class VI onwards to each girl student who is also the single child of a parent. Similarly, it will be appreciated if the schools also consider extending 50% concession in these fees for every girl student who is one of two daughters who are also the only two children in a family. In addition to above, the school on its own can also waive such fees like transportation and meal fee (as applicable).
It has been decided by the Board that the above provisions will be made applicable to all schools affiliated with the Board. However, already affiliated schools will have a choice to implement these either with immediate effect or from the next academic session commencing from 1.04.2006. In case of schools seeking affiliation with CBSE, the implementation will be with immediate effect.
For implementation of these provisions, it is advised that the schools may accept the status of the girl children on the basis of a simple affidavit sworn by the parents. Such parents may also be informed very categorically that they shall intimate the school immediately about any change in the single status of girl child/children in the family, if and when it occurs, and it shall be their sole responsibility. The schools may also intimate to the parents that in case it is detected at any time that the affidavit sworn in by them was false, appropriate action will be taken by the school against them, and the CBSE will also consider withholding certificates.
In the light of the above, the Managements & Heads of the Institutions of all the affiliated schools are requested to take appropriate action, and to submit their 'Quarterly Report on Fee Concession', as per enclosed format. The schools who have applied for affiliation with the Board are also requested to be in readiness for implementing the above provision for promotion of education for the girl child from the month they receive affiliation with the Board and start sending quarterly reports in the format. To start with, the report for the quarter ending September 2005 may be sent to the Joint Secretary (Affiliation), Central Board of Secondary Education, Delhi before 30th November 2005. It is hoped that all the affiliated schools will take the pride in the implementation of above provisions in the interest of education of girl children, and non-implementation of these provisions will attract necessary action under Affiliation Bye-Laws of the Board.
Not only was the CBSE asking schools to provide free education to single girl children, it was also asking schools to submit a Quarterly Compliance Report - more paperwork for the schools. There was strong resistance to this move from CBSE-affiliated schools and a minority unaided institution, Carmel Convent School, moved the Delhi High Court saying that the circular is violative of Article 30 of the Constitution (right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions). In January 2006, the Delhi High Court stayed the implementation of the order and Justice Vikramjit Sen issued notices to CBSE, the Centre and the Director of Education of the Delhi Government asking them to file replies to the petition within four weeks and posted the matter for further hearing on March 27.
Just a week before the next hearing in the Delhi High Court, the CBSE in its circular dated March 22, 2006 has chosen to water down its previous circular by making it optional for private CBSE-affiliated schools to consider extending waiver of fees to single girl children studying in classes IX to XII. But all single girl children studying in government run Kendriya Vidyalayas would be given a fee waiver from class VI onwards, with the government picking up the tab. It has also introduced a new scholarship scheme for single girl children who secure 60% or more marks in their class X Examination for the year 2006 onwards. These children would be given scholarship of Rs. 500/- p.m. for studying in classes XI and XII in schools who charged tuition fee of not more than Rs. 1,000/- p.m. during the academic year 2005-06.
The Delhi High Court has subsequently disposed off the case (Civil Writ Petition No. 778/2006) on March 27.
This is what the CBSE says in its superceding circular dated March 22, 2006.
In supersession of circular No.CBSE/AFF/2005/22817-30743 dated 18.10.2005 on above-mentioned subject, the following decisions have been taken by the Board for promotion of education for Girl child in the school:
- A new scholarship scheme has been introduced from the academic session 2006-07 for single girl child studying in the schools affiliated with the Board. As per the new scholarship scheme all single girl children who secure 60% or more marks in their class X Examination for the year 2006 onwards would be given scholarship of Rs. 500/- p.m. for studying in classes XI and XII in schools who charged tuition fee of not more than Rs. 1,000/- p.m. during the academic year 2005-06.
The detailed guidelines for availing the scholarship will be issued shortly.
- All the Kendriya Vidyalayas would continue to give fee waiver to single girl children (except meals and transportation fee) from class VI to XII as per the scheme already introduced by the Board.
- Further all the private independent schools affiliated to CBSE may also consider extending waiver of school fee (excluding meals and transportation fee) to single girl children studying in class IX to XII.
The above modifications are subject to the final outcome of the writ petition pending before the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in this regard.
For implementation of these schemes including scholarships, the status of single girl child will be accepted on the basis of an affidavit sworn by the parents. Such parents may also be informed very categorically that they shall intimate the school as well as the CBSE immediately about any change in the single status of girl child/children in the family, if and when it occurs, and it shall be their sole responsibility. The schools may also intimate to the parents that in case it is detected at any time that the affidavit sworn in by them was false, appropriate action will be taken against them, which may even include withholding of certificates.
In the light of the above, the Managements & Heads of the Institutions of all the affiliated schools are requested to take appropriate action, and to submit their 'Quarterly Report on Fee Concession' as per enclosed revised format if they are implementing. It is also requested that the modifications made to the scheme especially the scholarship component may be widely publicized among the students/parents of your school so that they are able to take maximum benefit.
Further in order to enable the Board to grant scholarships at the earliest all the schools are requested to submit the following information to the Board:
(a) List and Roll No of single girl children who appeared in AISSE 2006 of the Board latest by 31.5.2006 and
(b) List and Roll No.of single girl children secured 60% and above marks in AISSE 2006 latest by 31.7.2006.
It is hoped that all the schools affiliated with the Board will cooperate in implementing the modified scheme successfully.
The revised proposal of offering a scholarship to all single girl children studying in all CBSE-affiliated schools (not just Kendriya Vidyalayas) makes eminent sense. The Government ought to pick up the tab and has rightly chosen to do so. With a minimum requirement of 60% marks in their class X exams and limiting the scholarship to those schools where the tuition fee is not more than Rs. 1,000/- per month, the CBSE is targeting the really needy and promising single girl students.
Not only is it targeting the right students, it is also providing a very strong incentive for schools to enroll single girl students since they will get Rs. 500 per month per child from the government. In effect, this is a voucher model. Any single girl child can take the scholarship and go to any school
he/she wants and encash it there. Schools will now be competing to enroll single girl children.