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Monday, June 7, 2010

Edition 24: Lessons in Lawlessness

Even as the schools try to impart lessons of good citizenship in the young generation of country, most of them fail to comply with the basic norms set by law and government. The practice raises question about what the young wards will learn in their formative years.
Devidas Deshpande
As the month of May ends, the parents whose kids are eligible for admission in primary schools will be readying for that yearly ordeal. With burgeoning population, increased income and logical ambition of parents to impart best available school education to their kids,
the market is crammed with the applicants and the school administration becomes more and more adamant over own rules and stipulations.
The municipal schools are out of question for people with average to high income group, even though the municipal authorities are entrusted with law to regulate the schools and education process. As part of periodic exercise of this power, a list of unauthorized schools in city is announced each year. The list was announced this year also. According to PMC, these schools run without the proper permission from the authorities. The list of these schools is given in separate box.

However, in case of schools with formal permission also, it is not necessary that all schools follow the given guidelines. For example, the activists of student wing of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena drew the attention of PMC education board to that fact that Two renowned schools in the city — St Vincent’s and Loyola — had tried to conduct entrance exam for class 1 two months ago. After objection from workers, the the schools cancelled the exams. The MNS had also registered a complaint with the chief of PMC education board. Acting on the complaint, Ramchandra Jadhav of PMC education board issued the circular to 350 schools asking them not to to conduct any entrance exam for pre-primary or class 1 admissions.

However, this is a rampant practice going on for years. Another case of flouting the rules is evident in case of fire hazards. Implementation of safety norms in the National Building Code of India (NBCI) 2005, particularly those relating to fire hazards, has been made mandatory for all new privately-run primary schools in the state.

State department for school education has directed the deputy directors (education) to ensure that no new school is issued an approval without being inspected for the NBCI norms and without having a proper building safety certification.

According to Sunil Magar, deputy director (education), Pune region, " Pune region covers Pune, Ahmednagar and Solapur districts. The government has sanctioned nearly 60 primary schools and 60 secondary schools in principle in the region for 2009-10. " However, the implementation of this orders is also in question.

Problems Galore In PCMC
Rohit Datta
In the latest development, PCMC education directorate has declared 30 schools as unauthorised for the year 2010-2011.This farce has been going on for over 5 years but nobody seems to be really bothered about doing anything about it.
Notices threatening criminal proceedings are supposedly sent to these schools but still these schools somehow manage to evade the long arm of the law. Parents feel totally cheated when they come to know that the school for which they had to pay illegal donations and exorbitant fees is actually operating on an illegal basis. City schools have already hiked their fees for the next academic year inspite of a govt resolution directing them against it.

The PMC education department declared 18 schools as unauthorized in the city. “The citizens should not admit their students in these schools. The PMC education department will not be responsible if the students take admission in the illegal schools and later pay through academic loss,” the statement from the department said.

These illegal schools include eight of Marathi medium, six of English medium, two of Urdu medium, one of Kannada medium and one of both English and Marathi medium. Most of these schools are in suburban area of the city.

The list of school is as follows:
• Sant Gadhge Maharaj Primary School
• Ankur Vidyalaya, Harinandan Primary School
• Fakkadrao Thorve School, Pant School
• Sharda Primary School
• Bharatratna Marathi Medium School
• Dnyanprasarak Vidya Mandir
• Sriram Hanuman Mandal Pathshala
• Mariambi Urdu School
• Fauzul Ulum Primary School
• Raghavdas Primary School
• Pragati Engish School
• Dnyanprabodhini Primary School in Hadapsar
• Utkarsh Primary School
• India Naz English Medium School
• Wheelsad Primary School
• Abundant Life School.
The Norms Often Neglected
The schools in the Maharashtra are governed by Bombay Primary Education Act, 1947. Various stipulations have been made under the law and through Government Resolutions but they are rarely heeded. Here is list down of some of these laws.

• Schools should give priority to students residing in nearby areas
• Has Follow reservation norms while admitting students
• Private schools registered as charitable trusts but charge exhorbitant fees. Schools are also granted exemptions under the Income Tax Act for being charitable trusts. Furthermore, they get land from the government at a subsidised cost.
• Schools can only recover operational and maintenance costs in the tuition fee, but in reality, they are collecting capital expenditure such as building fees, infrastructure fee, development fee, etc.
• No admission test can be carried for primary schools.

• All schools should have fire extinguishers in place equipment and have two trained staffers to use it in the school building. There should proper exit ways provided in the building in case of a disaster. With many schools operated from old and dilapidated buildings, this is one of the most overlooked norms.
• The schools should provide space to all vehicles transporting schoolchildren into its premise. This will avoid congestion outside building resulting in less danger to the students.
• The autorickshaws should not ferry more than five students to and from school. This is a Supreme Court judgment in a suit in 2001. A strict implementation of this order is required.
• Supreme Court of India had also stipulated that one attendant is necessary in any vehicle carrying schoolchildren.
• Drivers and attendant of the schoolbuses should have at least five years of experience.
• The buses should be replaced after 8 years. Existing buses should be provided with exit doors on backside.
• All schools must have proper sanitation facilities.
• In girls schools, the teachers and other staff should be female.

The Horrible Record
• August 2009: School bus catches fire in New Panvel. One child dies
• April 2009: Dadar school bus owner held for molesting girls under eight
• January 2008: Six school kids die of burns after the Maruti Omni ferrying them to a Jogeshwari school caught fire.
• February 2008: A Gorai child died of head injuries as the Matador van transporting school kids suddenly braked.

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