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26 Apr 2017

Panel for school clearance

Mita Mukherjee, TT, April 25: Schools seeking ICSE or CBSE affiliation can now acquire no-objection certificates in quick time - a procedure that would earlier drag for years.
The school education department has set up a panel to issue NOCs - mandatory for all upcoming schools seeking affiliation to any board. The certificate would earlier be issued after different wings of the school education department ran the necessary checks - a time-taking process.
"The files would get stuck at one or more points in the department for technical reasons such as absence of a competent authority to sign a document. Sometimes the files wouldn't proceed because of negligence of a clerk in a particular section," said a senior official of the school education department. "Schools would often need to wait for over two years to get an NOC."
There are at present more than 100 pending applications for NOC, sources in the department said.
Schools seeking affiliation to the Madhyamik board will continue to follow the old method as they usually do not have to wait as long as ICSE or CBSE schools for an NOC.
The panel was formed yesterday at a meeting in Bikash Bhavan, attended by senior officials of the school education department and representatives of ICSE and CBSE boards.
"The panel that started functioning today will receive applications from new schools, examine the proposals, find out if they fulfil all the conditions, inspect the facilities and decide whether the NOC should be issued," the senior official said.
If all the requirements are fulfilled, the board will forward its recommendation to the school education minister. The panel - comprising senior officials of the school education department, representatives of the affiliating boards and senior teachers - will then issue the NOC to the school.
The panel will comprise senior officials of the school education department, representatives of the affiliating boards - ICSE and CBSE - and senior teachers. The number of members will vary according to the number of applications received and other factors.
At every stage, the panel will have to clear the file within a stipulated period, the official said.
"It should not take more than three months to wrap up a case. If schools fail to fulfil any of the norms, they will be given time to correct the shortcoming," said the official.
Before issuing the NOC, the government needs to confirm that the physical infrastructure is in place. That includes the land (whether there is any legal dispute over it), the school building, the size of the classrooms, staircases and other facilities such as laboratory, library, washrooms, drinking water and fire safety arrangements.
Once the government issues the NOC, the boards have to grant affiliation on the basis of a series of inspections that focus on academic facilities, teacher-student ratio, qualification of teachers, admission and examination procedures.
A principal of an ICSE school alleged there were instances when NOC had been delayed for even up to five years. "After the delay, the government had been forced to issue the NOC without proper inspections and without verifying the documents properly. Since the schools did not fulfil the requirements, the provisional affiliations (usually awarded for a year following the NOC) given to them by the ICSE and CBSE boards were not made permanent," said the principal.
One such ICSE school in south Calcutta had failed to rectify the deficiencies and had been running on the basis of provisional affiliation for several years. The ICSE board recently withdrew its recognition that led to guardians' protests. The schools finally had to take the affiliation of the state Madhyamik board that has inconvenienced the students to a great extent.
"We are expecting instances of such students' harassment will not take place once the new body starts operating," said a source in the education department.
The body will have to hold meetings at regular intervals to consider new applications.
A principal of an ICSE school alleged that delay in issuing NOC would often force the government to issue the certificate without a thorough check.

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