Around 206 private primary schools in Mumbai are illegal, revealed Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) education department data. BMC has stated that these schools have not acquired the necessary approvals and have warned parents against enrolling their children with them.
The schools, most of them English medium and some Hindi and Marathi medium, function without adequate infrastructure and teachers.
Of the 206 illegal schools listed by the civic body, total 162 are English medium schools, 16 Urdu schools, 15 Hindi and 13 Marathi-medium schools.
Majority of these schools are situated in the eastern and northern suburbs of the city, while the highest number (67) illegal schools are in M East ward (Mankhurd and Govandi) and in areas of Malad east and Malwani in Malad west, Ghatkopar and Bhandup.
According to the civic officials, the schools need to take prior permission from BMC – a step that is mandatory under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. However, none of these schools has applied for approval. As per the Right to Education (RTE) Act, such schools will have to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh for operating without approvals and then Rs 10,000 a day if they still continue operations.
Mahesh Palkar, BMC education officer, said "These schools have not acquired permission from the BMC education department to run the school as they do not meet the 10 mandatory infrastructure norms stipulated by the RTE Act. The Act states that schools must have a compound wall, the teacher-student ratio of 1: 30 in primary and 1:35 in upper primary, separate toilets for girls and boys, safe drinking water and playgrounds among other facilities. Majority of these schools are located in the slum pockets of the city and do not have proper infrastructure and qualified teachers."
In March 2019, the BMC had declared 211 schools illegal for not having required approvals after issuing three notices between 2018 and 2019, the civic body had released a list of these schools in printed advertisements as a warning notice for parents. This, civic officials said, was a final warning to the schools. However, the schools kept operating until March 2020, when the schools were forced to shut due to coronavirus induced lockdown. Around five schools have shut down, bringing down the number of illegal schools in the city to 206.
“We have already issued notices to these schools time and again but they have not acted on it. The schools are currently shut, as soon as they reopen we will slap them with fines of Rs 1 lakh for violations,” added Palkar.