New Delhi: After an almost two-year wait during which some candidates selected by the human resource development ministry failed to pass muster, the government has appointed Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi as chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
Chaturvedi, a 1987 batch Indian Administrative Service officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre, will be in charge of the school board until 15 December 2020.
Before being appointed CBSE chairman, he was posted in the Seventh Pay Commission secretariat, whose recommendations on salary hikes for 10 million central government employees and pensioners have been approved by the government.
A post-graduate in geography who is fluent in Russian, Chaturvedi has done five brief training stints at various Indian Institutes of Management in subjects ranging from information technology to public policy. He attended two overseas training courses, including one in the UK on human resource development, according to his executive record sheet.
Before joining the Pay Commission team, he was the resident commissioner at Madhya Pradesh Bhawan in Delhi, liaising between state and central government administrations.
“A straight and result-oriented IAS officer” is how an employee at Madhya Pradesh Bhawan described him on condition of anonymity. He held the post of resident commissioner between August 2014 and December 2015.
“A pure government person – will listen to you but most likely not accept your views,” is how another government official described Chaturvedi. “He is well connected within the system.” This person didn’t want to be named either.
The appointments committee of the cabinet chose Chaturvedi after rejecting two previous candidates selected by the HRD ministry in 2015 (Satbir Bedi) and 2016 (Sarvendra Vikram Bahadur Singh).
Chaturvedi comes to a CBSE whose role in education has expanded.
“CBSE is not just a school board anymore. It has allied responsibilities in the higher education space,” an HRD ministry officer said on condition of anonymity.
CBSE, which started operation in 1962 with 309 schools, now administers over 16,000 schools and manages the board exams of over 2.5 million students in class 10 and Class 12.
CBSE is also responsible for conducting the Joint Entrance Exam Main (JEE-Main) the first tier of the two-tier entrance test for selection of students to the Indian Institutes of Technology and other top engineering schools.
It also conducts the National Eligibility Test (NET) for the University Grants Commission for selection of professors at colleges and universities and Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) for selection of school teachers.
He will play a key role in India’s skill development mission, given the government’s plan to assimilate vocational training with school education.
Chaturvedi, who will be supervising 10 regional offices of the CBSE, will also have to deal with criticism that a lenient assessment system adopted by the central board are forcing state-level school boards to inflate the marks of their own students, making life difficult for students in finding admission to universities.