For the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), whose draft for the upcoming civic budget is Rs 3,608 crore, sparing Rs 10 lakh to convert one of its primary school in Kondhwa into a high school by adding three divisions — VIII, IX and X — should not be a mammoth task. Surprisingly, the PMC has decided to seek help from NGOs to raise funds.
PMC's education dept is going to NGOs to ask for the cash. Pic/Mohan Patil
Civic officials claimed that since the corporation would not be receiving any aid from the state government, it would have to bare the cost of Rs 10 lakh 'permanently'. There are four Marathi medium primary schools run by the PMC from a single building in Kondhwa. These schools have a total strength of 216 students in Std VII. Parents of these students had demanded that the divisions be extended up to Std X.
Taking into consideration their demand, PMC's Women and Child Development Committee (WCDC) approved the proposal of converting Sant Gadge Maharaj Primary School into a high school on November 13, 2013. But when the proposal was tabled before the then civic chief Mahesh Pathak on February 10, 2014, he remarked that the three divisions would be added by taking financial help from NGOs.
Commenting on the issue, PMC Education Officer (Primary) Shivaji Daundkar said, "As the school will not receive any aid for additional three divisions from the state government, the (then) commissioner gave his remark of taking help from social organisations. The search for NGOs interested in providing financial aid, for salaries of teachers, has commenced. If this happens, then the PMC will only have to bear the cost of providing study material to the students."
Surprised by the civic body's decision to approach an NGO for monetary help, Asmita Shinde, an WCDC member, said, "Rather than giving the remark of approaching social organisations, the (former) commissioner should have recommended arrangement of Rs 10 lakh from the funds allocated to the corporators.
When there is a demand for a secondary school, with students ready to take admissions, the civic administration is suggesting taking outside help as a cost cutting measure. This is unnecessary. In the next
meeting, I'll suggest the civic body of managing the funds from the aid given to the corporators."
MiD DAY has a copy of the remark given by Pathak, which states: "To start a high school (in Kondhwa) will cost Rs 10 lakh annually. The said expenditure will increase with time and at the same time the government will not provide any aid for it. Hence, the PMC has to bare the cost permanently. As per the PMC's set policies, providing higher education is not mandatory. In such situations, taking help from NGOs would make it feasible for the PMC to run this school." The remark also mentioned that there were two private schools within the radius of three kilometres, and students can take admission there for Std VIII. There was no need for the PMC to start a high school.