Activists, principals gung-ho as curtains fall on PMC education board

Just days after the state government ordinance lead to dissolving of the education board of the Pune Municipal Corporation, several school principals and educationists heaved a sigh relief.

They said the ordinance had put to end to the ‘admission shops’ opened by politicos and officials of the education board, who were approached by student unions and parents for securing admissions for their children across private schools in the city by producing special reference letters signed by the education board officials. The governor signed the ordinance recently.

PMC's education board
Shutter down: Main building of the PMC’s education board. File Pic

“The education board was the ultimate authority for running a private aided primary school. Right from issuing permissions to start a school to appointment of its staff was done via board officials. That’s why if it was big headache. This made us obligatory to entertain reference letters from board officials and to ensure that concerned admission was confirmed,” a principal said.

The principal added that even though the school reopened in the second week of June, she was receiving reference letters form parents wanting their children be admitted in the school until recently. While some appeared to be hopeful, other principals complained that they were being severed old wine in a new bottle.

“Though the authority has been shifted from the education board is shifting to the PMC, nothing’s going to change. Now we will get ‘requests’ from corporators, which until now were coming from board officials,” said a principal.

Commenting on the issue, education board chairperson Pradeep Dhumal admitted that he himself had issued reference letters for school admissions. “Actually, we don’t have any direct control over any private schools in the city. We only give reference and nothing else,” he said.

A senior board official said only a couple of students get admission when they issue 10 such letters. “It is not that we force school to admit students that come with our reference,” he said.

To oppose the ordinance, members of education boards in the state would be presenting their present their side in the cabinet on Tuesday. On Friday, Dhumal and his deputy handed over their official vehicles after the board was dissolved.

Education activist Matin Mujawar said, “There is no doubt that the admission shop running under the name of PMC education board has to shut now. Under the name of 25 per cent reserved quota, several board officials compelled private schools to admit students by giving their own references.”  

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