The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has responded to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the Delhi High Court, which called for a uniform education system across India up to Class 12. In its reply, the CBSE has conveyed its opposition to the petition, citing the constitutional distribution of powers and the diversity in the educational landscape.
CBSE pointed out that education falls under the Concurrent List of the Constitution, with most schools being under the jurisdiction of state governments. Consequently, the responsibility for framing syllabi, and curricula, and conducting examinations for these schools rests with the respective state and Union Territory governments.
Advocating for the inclusion of education in the mother tongue at all levels, CBSE emphasized that a uniform board and syllabus across India may not consider the local context, culture, and language. In support of this stance, the board underlined the importance of incorporating local resources, culture, and ethos into the curriculum. According to the CBSE, students can better relate to courses that reflect their lives outside the school environment. Therefore, maintaining a diversity of curricula and educational resources alongside a core common element is considered desirable.
The petitioner, Mr. Upadhyay, a practicing lawyer and BJP leader, argued that while entrance examination syllabi and curricula are standardized, those of the CBSE, Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), and state boards differ significantly. This, he contended, creates an inequality of opportunity, which goes against the spirit of Articles 14-16 of the Constitution.
Mr. Upadhyay stated, “Even though this disparity cannot be fully removed, the government can establish a standardized entrance system for college and university aspirants. Standardization of syllabus and curriculum means that everyone would have equal chances of getting into colleges and universities.” He emphasized that the right to education is a fundamental right and should be accessible at the same level and standard for all, regardless of socioeconomic conditions or cultural background.
In the realm of setting textbooks and educational materials across the country, the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) developed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) plays a key role. The NCF provides guidelines for curriculum, syllabi, textbooks, and supplementary materials. State Councils of Educational Research and Training (SCERTs) and State Education Boards either adopt, adapt, or develop their own syllabi and textbooks, aligning with the NCF’s principles.
The CBSE, in its response, concluded that the present petition seeking a uniform education system nationwide lacks merit in the interest of justice. The debate over a standardized education system in India remains a complex and multifaceted issue, touching on constitutional, cultural, and educational considerations.