A meeting between the representatives of the government-run schools and Education Minister Rajendra Darda seems to have failed to yield a desired result, and chances are that this disagreement might take its toll on students appearing for the upcoming SSC examination.
Of the 67,241 government-run schools in the state, officials of over 25,000 have decided against allowing their institutions be used as examination centres for the board exam, starting March 2. All these 25,000 schools are a part of the School Management Association (SMA). Schools that have decided to take part in the protest are yet to receive a non-salary grant from the government. However, about 300 schools in Mumbai have decided to stay away from the protest.
Commenting on the recent meeting with Darda, Kapil Patil, president of NGO Shikshak Bharti, said the only positive outcome from the meeting was that the education minister assured that recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff would be completed soon. However, the main issue of clearance of non-salary grants remained unsolved and would be taken up at a meeting with chief minister and his deputy soon. However, dates are yet to be confirmed.
Some of the earlier meetings to discuss the issue were held in Solapur and Chandrapur and were chaired by P M Raut, president of SMA and Maharashtra Rajya Shikshan Hakka Kruti Samiti (MRSHKS). Apart from not receiving non-salary grants from the government for years, some of the schools are also awaiting funds promised for underprivileged students who were covered under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
Raut said, “Several schools are still waiting for their share of non-salary grants from the government and the amount varies from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 1 crore. There is a rule that states that if schools are not paid for using their premises, then they can refuse the usage of their premises to anybody, including the board for conducting its exams.
We are not against the board exam, but the government has not paid us since 2004. Also, it is yet to pay to schools for those students who are covered under 25 per cent RTE Act and are entitled to free and compulsory education.” Seconding Raut’s opinion, MRSHKS coordinator Ashok Belsare said, “We don’t want students to face any kind of problem. But the schools are tired of waiting to get their grants.”
The number of government-run schools in the state