Nearly a month after the new academic year commenced and with the first unit test just around the corner, more than 10,000 students studying in municipal schools are still awaiting school uniforms, textbooks and also benches to sit on during classes.
On Wednesday, the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) education board sent its requirement of benches to the PMC’s store department a month after school began. According to the procedure, the education board should send their requirement to the stores, who will then conduct all necessary formalities of purchasing the required materials.
“There is requirement of books, uniform and benches. Without the education board’s written requirement and budgetary provision we cannot make the purchases. We, only received the requisition for benches yesterday,” said Shriniwas Kandul, head of the store department, PMC.
Shivaji Daundkar, education officer of PMC, said that all formalities to secure the uniforms have been completed, but there is a minor glitch. “The contractor was supposed to provide fabric from Arvind Mill located at Ichalkaranji or Pune. But, at the eleventh hour he was supplying fabric from Mumbai. So we refused and told the contractor to make available the material, which was agreed upon in the proposal. The finalisation did take time, but it is almost completed and probably in the next month students will get the uniforms,” Kandul said.
No place to sit
City-based NGO Sajag Nagrik Manch recently revealed that 19 civic-run schools face a shortage of 2,133 benches. “Many students have no option but to sit on the floor or are made to sit three on a bench during classes. Last year, a provision of Rs 12 lakh was made in the civic budget. This year, too, Rs 12 lakh has been allotted to secure benches, but till now Rs 5.88 lakh tenders have been floated,” said Vivek Velankar, founder of Sajag Nagarik Manch.
“Last year, lakhs of rupees were spent for the career festival, which was needed. However, PMC officials don’t find time to provide basic amenities for civic-run schools,” said Velankar.
“We also observed that students have not received uniforms and textbooks. We don’t understand why the PMC officials cannot complete all requisitions in February or March. Every year, they take their own sweet time to distribute textbooks and uniforms, which only shows the lethargic attitude of the education officer,” said Velankar.
Reacting to the comment, Daundkar said, “By next week textbooks will be distributed to all schools. I accept that we took time in textbook distribution, as we had to wait till June-end to ascertain the exact number of students.
After that we sent an order to Balbharati to publish the books. Without knowing the number of students, how can we publish books? However, books have been published and will be distributed as soon as possible.”