Mumbai's ghost school: Ghatkopar school running without NOC since 2006

Apr 20, 2017, 08:20 IST | Silky Sharma

Garodia International School affiliated with IGCSE Board, in Ghatkopar
Garodia International School affiliated with IGCSE Board, in Ghatkopar

Around 300 students of a Ghatkopar school face an uncertain future. Their alma mater, Garodia International School, affiliated with the IGCSE Board, doesn't have the mandatory unified district information system for education (UDISE) number or a no-objection certificate from the government to function. These came to light on Tuesday when 24 parents approached Pant Nagar police station in Ghatkopar to file a complaint.

The UDISE, issued by the state department of education, is a database of information on all schools in India. A code is generated for every registered school to allow it to function. Registration with it was made mandatory for all schools in 2012. Schools also need an NOC from the state government.

The 24 parents who are demanding action against school director Nishant Garodia for cheating said they found out that the school doesn't have a UDISE number after the school proposed a 200 per cent hike in fee two months ago on the grounds of newer and improved amenities.

Caught by chance
"The school didn't mention the UDISE number at the PTA (parent-teacher association) meeting then. When we checked with a PTA member from the school's ICSE board, we found that the ICSE division has a UDISE number," said Biju Nambiar, a PTA member of the school.

Rajesh Shah, who was among the 24 parents, said some parents thereafter approached the education department to confirm their worst fears. They found that the school was not legal. "We also suspect that it doesn't have the requisite NOC. We filed an RTI application to seek information on this a week ago."

Parents also pointed out that school's PTA, which approved any hike in fee, was formed only last year.

All in place: School
School director Nishant Garodia, however, claimed that his school has all the relevant documents. "We have all the documents, including the NOC. In October last year, we applied for the UDISE number, but have not received it yet. The education inspector has assured us that we would soon receive it." He admitted that the school's PTA was formed only last year, but claimed that an unofficial meeting with parents used to be convened every month to discuss curricula and fee structure.

Anil Sable, education inspector from north zone, however, said the school hasn't renewed its NOC since 2006.

Why approach us: Cops
Meanwhile, the Pant Nagar police said they aren't the right authorities to intervene in the matter. "Parents approached us to register a case under section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing the delivery of property) of the IPC. Although we accepted their complaint and will investigate the case, parents should have approached the education department instead," said Praful Phadke, senior inspector from the police station.

Will the absence of a UDISE number affect admissions of students who clear Std X from the school? No, says an official from the education department. "The UDISE number is like an identity proof, which helps the government keep track of a school in terms of student and faculty strength and the facilities it provides. The lack of a UDISE number will not effect the admission of a student in a different school." The school, which has been functioning since 2004, has a student strength of around 300.

From 200% to 5%
In the first week of April, 260 parents launched a signature campaign against the school director after the institute proposed a 200 per cent hike in fee to provide better amenities in a new building. After parents met Education Minister Vinod Tawde yesterday, the school dropped the proposal to 5 per cent.

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