While demands for upgrading primary civic schools to secondary have intensified, the Mumbai chapter of Maharashtra Rajya Shikshak Parishad (a teacher's association) has revealed that the already existing 224 BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) secondary schools have had no headmasters for more than a decade. The civic Education Department officials say the posts of headmaster and other teaching and non-teaching staff have not been sanctioned by the administration, leaving the position vacant for years.
According to the civic body data and representatives of Maharashtra Rajya Shikshak Parishad (MRSP), all 190 (new) secondary schools started by the civic body in 2008 have no headmasters. Senior teachers in the school have been appointed as in- charge or acting headmasters. Meanwhile, of the 48 (old) civic-run secondary schools, 34 have no headmasters.
"There have been demands by public representatives and corporators in the BMC to upgrade all the civic schools to secondary schools. We have no objection to this demand; it will be very helpful for students. However, we want the civic body to first sanction the posts and appoint headmasters for the existing BMC secondary schools. We have written to the BMC commissioner on January 13, apprising him of the issue and have appealed to him to not upgrade schools to secondary schools until they get headmasters for the existing ones," said Shivnath Darade, general secretary of the Mumbai chapter of Maharashtra Rajya Shikshak Parishad (MRSP).
The failure on the part of the civic administration to provide education up to Class 10 has led to the increase in the dropout rate in municipal schools in Mumbai, say school administrators and activists. Thus, corporators have now demanded that all the schools be upgraded to Class 10.
There are 543 municipal schools teaching up to Class 8 and only 224 schools that teach up to Class 10 in Mumbai. This has led to a consistent 9 per cent dropout after students pass Class 8.
"The old 48 secondary schools have been operational since around four decades, still only 14 have full time headmasters. Around 70 English medium schools were started by the BMC in 2007-08. All 70 are not upgraded to secondary schools. However, these schools are operating without headmasters, clerks, librarians and even peons," added Darade.
Elaborating on the issue, Mahesh Palkar, BMC education officer said, "The post of headmasters has not been sanctioned for years. Hence, we cannot appoint anybody on the post. However, we have assigned a teacher in all these schools, who looks after all the work that a headmaster is supposed to. Once these posts are sanctioned, we will appoint headmasters."