Mumbai: For 200-250 students in a small school in Mumbai’s suburban Mankhurd area, they first had to walk down a narrow corridor and then climb an iron staircase to get to class. The name of the classroom is a small, unventilated room where 30 children in school uniform sit together. The asbestos sheet ceiling has heated the room, and even the air from the moving fan seems to be nothing less than a hot slap.
In each room of the school made the same, 30 children try to learn in the scorching heat. And at the same time, it has a small office with a different look from these rooms.
Shockingly, the school continues to function despite being deemed “unrecognised” by the Maharashtra government and the city’s civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which does not have permission to function.
Each year the state education department publishes a list of “unrecognized” schools. Which means that these schools do not have a license or government authority to run the school. Most of these schools do not meet the minimum standards of safe infrastructure, classroom size, student-teacher ratio, etc.
The department issued a government resolution this January. ThePrint has read this proposal. It claims that 674 schools in Maharashtra have been declared unauthorized in 2020-21.
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Mumbai has the highest number of such schools i.e. 239 in which about 5000 students study. After that comes the number of Thane (149) and Palghar (143).
An official of the state education department told ThePrint, “We collect data on the UDISE website (Unified District Information System for Education, a central government-run database for schools). After that, the district officials are requested to check these schools if they are really not recognized, only after verifying them we prepare a final list.
“After that, advertisements are made in newspapers to inform the parents of the children so that they can avoid the admission of their children in these schools,” the official said. According to the RTE (Right to Education Act), if the schools run even after that, they will have to pay a fine of one lakh rupees.
In the case of Mumbai, the BMC provides data on schools to the state government. Some of the schools that were in the BMC list since last year have reappeared in the state government redaction.
ThePrint visited Mankhurd in Mumbai’s Shivaji Nagar area. Going there, it has been verified that at least 10 schools on the “Unrecognized” list are still functioning. All the schools had a minimal number of classrooms and the state of the infrastructure was pathetic. But they were still in demand because of their low fees and being built around low-income areas.
However, the management of some of these schools claimed that they had applied for recognition. But this process is very slow. They are providing education to children from underprivileged communities.
Speaking to ThePrint, BMC Education Department in-charge Raju Tadvi said notices will be sent to these schools and action will be taken soon. “We cannot close these schools in the middle of the school year. Because around 5,000 children study there and their future is tied to it. Well, we will start punishing these schools now.
unqualified teachers, poor educational results
Most of the listed unaided private schools in Mumbai are located in densely populated slum areas. The reason parents move towards them is the low fees and the fact that they are closer to home than the nearest government schools.
Omar Sheikh runs a local NGO in the Mankhurd area. At the same time, it also organizes community classes to teach high school dropouts and underprivileged children. He said, “The parents of the children studying in these private schools are daily laborers and cooking enthusiasts. They don’t have the money to pay the fees of good schools.
Sheikh said that most of the teachers teaching in these schools do not have a B.Ed degree or formal training. That’s why there is a big impact on children’s learning ability.
Shaikh said, “A student studying in class VIII does not even understand the maths problem of class V and we have to teach him everything again.”
ThePrint spoke to some teachers in these schools and found that most of the teachers were not qualified to teach the children.
One of these teachers was a 23-year-old teacher who had recently completed a hotel management course. On the condition of anonymity, he acknowledged that he had no teaching degree or experience. He has taken the job to “earn the money” he spent on his hotel management career.
He teaches English, history and geography to students from classes 7 to 10 on a nominal salary of Rs 6,000 per month.
Another teacher was working for the last year on a monthly salary of Rs 5,000. But when he was not given a raise even after a year, he quit the job. He said he started teaching when he was in 11th standard. She was in charge of the first class.
He admitted that the kind of “unrecognized” school he taught at, kids who leave there find it hard to succeed.
“If these students want to pursue higher studies, they will not get admission anywhere because the school is not recognized,” he said.
She says: “The teachers themselves put the paper in the exam and give numbers to the students. They are not affiliated to the government, so students are promoted to the next class on the basis of the same numbers.
“At least the rates are within our reach”
The children whose parents spoke to ThePrint requested anonymity for fear of backlash.
Many said they did not know whether their children’s schools have been recognized by the state government. The first priority for him was to be close to the school and the fees were low.
The parents of three children, two of whom study in an “unrecognized” school and one in a government school, said, “We don’t know (whether the school is recognized or not), but the fees are around Rs 300.” is per month That is why we sent our children to these schools. They are 300 meters from our house.
A mother of three said, “What will we do? There is no government school nearby… One is in Deonar, but it is about 3-4 km from here. How would we have brought our children here? The her three children are 7, 9 and 11. All three are studying in a recognized government listed school. Her husband is a carpenter and earns daily.
Many parents admitted that they were not aware of how their child was doing in school. He himself is not educated.
One woman said that there is no PTM in the school. She says, “They should talk to us and tell us what’s going on.” I don’t know if the kids know anything or not. Her husband sets up a food stall.
What does it take to recognize a school?
According to the state education department official quoted above, a new school must meet the requirements of the Maharashtra Self-Financing Schools Act, 2012 to be recognized.
In this, a society or board of trustees must be constituted for the school and then a certificate of registration will be issued. Also include a copy of the memorandum of association or trust deed/scheme. A bank statement, an audit report for the last three years, land documents and a “plan of the school plan” are also required, the official said.
According to the application form, details of the school plan include the number of classrooms, their size, provision of separate toilets for boys and girls, drinking water facilities, computer and playground , others.
The management of some of these schools, on condition of anonymity, said they have submitted applications but the process is very slow and complicated.
Shekha, a management member of the unrecognized Mercy English School, said the application has been submitted but the process is taking time.
“Whenever we apply for anything related to the government, we have to go through a long process. We have the UDISE number but the process is taking a long time. We have sent the documentation but have not yet received a response. He claimed that his school has been running since 2016.
Nazm of Little Angel English School told ThePrint that she has got recognition for her secondary section. But the matter is pending in the primary wing. He muttered, “Some requirements are hard to meet.
He said, “I should have Rs 12-15 lakh in my account for fixed deposit.” Along with this, we will also have to pay the government fees. How will I have so much money now? We have a school for poor people. People with a lot of money like builders and politicians can easily open schools and get recognition.” His school has been running since 2003.
“He will act in December”
Government officials said that after the state government publishes the list of unrecognized schools, it is the responsibility of the district authorities (or BMC in the case of Mumbai) to take necessary action.
When asked about this, BMC education department in-charge Raju Tadvi told ThePrint that the civic body was taking the matter seriously and action would be taken in December as per the provisions of the RTE.
“They will have the option to seek recognition from the Maharashtra government or BMC or close the school,” Tadvi said.
When asked about some slum schools that function in particularly unsafe conditions, Tadvi said that schools that do not have adequate infrastructure will not get any recognition. “We will take action against these schools,” he said.
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