Poor? This school is not for you

Residents of several slums in Andheri allege the English medium Barfiwala High School is refusing to enroll their children, even though the school is just a few hundred metres from their homes and instead admitting children of affluent families, who live several kilometres away. School authorities deny the allegation, say they are not flouting the RTE Act

When three-year-old Aaryz Ahmed’s father wanted to enroll him in the nearby English medium school, he was in for a shock.The slum dweller was turned down, even though he lived next to the school. Yet the school in question is still happily enrollingstudents from affluent families who live miles away.

Arif Ahmed, father of Aaryz. Pic/Satyajit Desai

If you are poor, don’t you dare dream of studying in an English medium school. This is the unspoken message the Cosmopolitan Educational Trust’s CD Barfiwala High School in Andheri (W) has given out to several children from nearby slum areas, by refusing to grant them admission, even though they reside within a kilometre of the institution. This, as some local residents have pointed out, is against the Right To Education (RTE) Act, which states that a school cannot refuse admission to a child residing within a kilometre of the institution.

Arif Ahmed, father of Aaryz, is justifiably aggrieved. “The school has refused to enroll my son, after they realised I live in the Andheri Gaonthan area on JP Road,” said Arif. He added that for the past two academic years, children from the slum area are being refused admission to Barfiwala School, a problem, which had never happened earlier.

Like Arif, at least a dozen other residents have now approached the local Congress corporator Mohsin Haidar and apprised him about the incident. “I received many complaints this year. Even last year, too, the school had refused to issue admission forms to parents who are living in slum areas like Tape village, Gillbert HIll, Gaondevei Dongri, Navrang Cinema, Andheri Market and Andheri Gaonthan,” Haidar told Sunday MiD Day.

Sources within the school on condition of anonymity said children from as far away as Amboli, Versova Link Road and Seven Bungalows had been enrolled. “It is unfair that the school is refusing admission to local residents, living within a kilometer of the school just because they are poor,” said Haidar. The corporator has now written to the school authorities warning them of stringent action if they violate the Right to Education Act.

The other side
When contacted, Bharat Valia, a Trustee of the Cosmopolitan Educational Trust, said, “We have a policy in place for the last 20 years and we do not give admission to children from these areas you are talking about. We have a clear area code from where we enroll students. We have to give preference to the local residents and siblings of existing students. If there are any vacancies thereafter, we enroll children from other areas. There are other schools in the area too. Why is everyone pointing to our school alone?”

Sunil Dhamne, deputy municipal commissioner (Education department), BMC, told Sunday Mid Day, “The matter has been brought to my notice. We will enquire into it and take necessary action.”

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