Mumbai: BMC Blamed For Giving A Pass To 218 ‘Unrecognised’ Schools

Mumbai: BMC Blamed For Giving A Pass To 218 ‘Unrecognised’ Schools

The deputy director of education (Mumbai region) has faulted the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for failing to review safety measures at 218 'unrecognised' private schools.

Musab QaziUpdated: Saturday, March 16, 2024, 10:41 PM IST
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BMC | File pic

Mumbai: The deputy director of education (Mumbai region) has faulted the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for failing to review safety measures at 218 'unrecognised' private schools.

In a letter to the state director of education (primary) earlier this month, the regional authority said that it disagrees with the civic body's assessment that these schools cannot be termed 'unauthorised' and thus must be spared of any disciplinary action, even though they lack the mandatory recognition under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Sandeep Sangave, the deputy director, also claimed that his office had directed BMC to evaluate whether these schools fulfill various norms laid out in the act or not, but is yet to receive a response.

The communication from Sangave comes after the education directorate pulled up him as well as the civic body for failing to conduct an inquiry into the concerns about the safety of school buildings despite multiple directives issued to them last year. In a sternly worded letter in January, had accused the two offices of 'dereliction of duty' and 'irresponsible behavior', threatening them with disciplinary action.

Of 678 unaided private schools under BMC's jurisdiction, 218 have been operating without the mandatory certificate of recognition required under the Right to Education (RTE) Act for the past several years, the BMC had revealed last year in response to a Right to Information (RTI) query. The major reason for the denial of the approval to these schools, which include some of the oldest and most prominent education institutes, is the fact that the decades-old and, in some cases, century-old school buildings are unable to conform to the newer standards of construction and safety.

Following the revelation, the Maharashtra State Student-Parent Teacher Federation (MSSPTF), a city-based organisation, had demanded that the authorities act against schools and impose fines for putting the lives and safety of their students at risk. Calling it a "serious" issue, the directorate as well as the state education commissioner had asked the civic and regional authorities to probe the matter.

In response, the BMC education department claimed that these schools are not 'unauthorised' as they have a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the state government and recommended that they don't face any action. The civic body has maintained has mainatained though the schools lack RTE Act approval, they have been periodically recognised under the Grant-in-Aid Code, which regulates primary schools in the city.

However, the directorate remained unsatisfied with this assessment. The RTE Act 2009 requires all privately-run schools to obtain a certificate of recognition by fulfilling various norms pertaining to teachers, school building, teaching hours, library and equipment. The state's 2011 rules for implementing the act require schools to submit a self declaration-cum-application (commonly known as 'Form 1') to the District Education Officer. The certificate of recognition (known as 'Form 2') is awarded to a school following an on-site inspection.

The schools argue that it's unrealistic to hold them to current norms as they were built in another era. They also claim that don't have the resources to fulfill many of the safety measures being demanded by authorities.

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