Historical Background

"A" state level Primary School Education Board for which provision already existed in the Primary Education Act of 1973, has been established. The Board is supposed to exercise jurisdictional authority on the District Primary School Councils, The objective is as much to decentralise as to democratise the primary education system." (Ashok Mitra Commission 1992, Page 39)

Though the West Bengal Primary Education Act, 1973 West Bengal Act XI, III of 1973 as referred to above by the Commission was passed in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly as early as on the 20th September, 1974, the West Bengal Board of Primary Education could be established

as provided in the Act only in 1990. It actually started functioning on and from the 2nd July, 1990. Several inhibiting factors were instrumental for the late implementation of the Act. The Left Front Government with the assumption of its office took up with the Act and made extensive but necessary changes in it. But it took a long time for getting assent of the Hon'ble Governor. Hon'ble Governor, as a matter of fact, sent it to His Excellency the President of India and the assent of the President reached after long lapse of several years. But court case again acted as a stumbling block. Some teachers of the then North 24 Parganas district filed a case against the said Act. The formation of the Board as well as the District Primary School Councils as per the revised act was further delayed. At last on 2nd July 1990 the West Bengal Board of Primary Education could be established with Prof. Partha De, Ex-Minister, School Education as its President and Shri Amal Das, the then Additional Joint Director, Directorate of School Education as its Part-time Secretary. With the establishment of this Board, unique in the whole country in respect of supervision, development, management and control of Primary Education in the State, four segments of education in the State came under four such autonomous Boards, viz.

* West Bengal Board of Primary Education

* West Bengal Board of Secondary Education

* West Bengal Board of Madrasah Education

* West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education

It is worthwhile to mention in this connection that the Ashok Mitra Commission set up in August 1991, immediately after the Board was established in July 1990, suggested not only the exercise of jurisdictional authority of the Board over the District Primary School Councils but also indicated its responsibility to induce the District Councils to coordinate effectively with the district inspectorates of schools and the Panchayet Samitis. (Ashok Mitra Commission, Page 42)

Introduction of a Modern and Scientific Curriculum and Syllabuses:
After independence curriculum and syllabuses based mostly on the Gandhian Philosophy of basic education were introduced as early as in 1950. After a lapse of some 31 years a new curriculum and syllabi subject-wise were introduced from 1981. Based on the recommendations of Prof. Himanshu Bimal Majumdar Committee 1978 this curriculum claims an innovative approach on counts more than one. In its bid to seek a total development of child, it kept in mind all the requirements for reaching this goal. With a view to making education life skill oriented and to making it realistic and practical, Co-scholastic subjects such as (a) Direct Experience-based works, (b) Creative and Productive works had been included as the basis of the curriculum. Emphasis was laid on Games, Sports and Physical Education, formation of scientific attitude and promotion of inquisitiveness and power of observation. The system of Continuous & Comprehensive Evaluation along with the policy of No-Detention upto class IV was introducedmaking it realistic and practical, the Directorate of School Education then took the initiative to develop the instructional materials such as text-books and some Guide-books. The SCERT, West Bengal since its inception in eighties took up the initiative to prepare the text-books and the Guide-books. Subject-wise Committees as recommended by the Himanshu Bimal Majumdar Committee were formed for the purpose and the SCERT developed the manuscripts of text books and subsequently some guide books in early eighties. The manuscripts were then handed over to the Department of School Education for publication and distribution. With the introduction of the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) and the Policy of No Detention as per the new Curriculum it became an imperative on the part of the Government to impart training in all these respects to all the educational functionaries both at the State and District levels and then to the Primary teachers as well. It was the SCERT that took the initiative to impart necessary orientation in all these respects. A three-tier and time bound Orientation Programme could however, be undertaken in 1994 - 1995 after the Primary Board was set up in 1990.

The West Bengal Board of Primary Education since its establishment in 1990 undertook all these activities and by 19931994 Guide-books in different subject areas were developed through different workshops involving experts & teachers along the line followed by the SCERT.
The Guide books developed by the Board were done keeping conformity to the national level approaches.

The teething troubles both in respect of manpower shortage and fund crunch of the Board were tremendous and it was Prof. Partha De, the first President of the Board who left no stone unterned to tackle the problems. The table below shows the subsequent Presidents and Secretaries of the Board.