Mumbai: BMC Grants Approval To 150 ‘Unrecognised’ Schools

Mumbai: BMC Grants Approval To 150 ‘Unrecognised’ Schools

The civic body has decided to approve these schools – many of them among the oldest and most prominent institutes in the city – even though they lack clearance for safety and security of their building structures.

Musab QaziUpdated: Monday, March 18, 2024, 09:52 PM IST
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BMC | File pic

Mumbai: After facing heat from the state authorities for failing to investigate 218 ‘unrecognised’ private schools, the BMC’s Education Department has issued certificates of recognition to 150 of them.

The civic body has decided to approve these schools – many of them among the oldest and most prominent institutes in the city – even though they lack clearance for safety and security of their building structures. The approvals were granted after these schools submitted an undertaking saying that they would be responsible for the safety of their students.

The schools have been operating without the civic body’s recognition, which is compulsory under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, for the past several years as they lacked no-objection certificates for their buildings, a prerequisite for getting approval. This is because the decades-old structure of these institutes didn’t conform to the building plan requirements of the civic body.

“The schools have submitted the reports of their structural safety, fire department clearance and other documents. The only thing they lack is building plan approval, as these are very old structures. We decided to accept their application after they agreed to sign the undertaking,” an official said.

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 (‘Form 2’) is awarded to a school following an on-site inspection.

The issuance of recognition comes after the state director of education (primary) in January pulled up the BMC for ignoring its direction to conduct an inquiry into safety measures at these schools. The director had accused the civic body of ‘dereliction of duty’ and ‘irresponsible behaviour’, threatening it with disciplinary action.

However, the BMC has maintained that despite their lack of recognition the schools can’t be termed ‘unauthorised’ and hence shouldn’t face any disciplinary action.

“These schools have been running for the past several years and their recognition is renewed every five years. Just because they lack RTE approval doesn’t mean they are illegal. The process for granting approvals under RTE has been continuously going on. It’s a long, time-consuming process," another official said, adding that the remaining schools will also be soon given approvals.

However, activists who have been seeking action against the ‘unrecognised’ schools remain unsatisfied. “Many of these schools lacked recognition ever since RTE Act came into force in 2013, while others got it for three years from 2013 and 2016 but it wasn’t renewed thereafter. Question is, what was the BMC doing for the past eight years? Why didn’t it punish the erring schools?” said Nitin Dalvi, from Maharashtra State Student-Parent Teacher Federation, a city-based organisation.

“If there were any issues in clearing building safety norms, the BMC should have conveyed it to the state government and sought a change in the rules. There are several other pre-conditions for granting RTE recognition that couldn’t be periodically reviewed due to BMC’s lethargy,” Dalvi said.

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