More than 500 school principals, members of management and teachers are expected to observe a day-long hunger strike protesting against the state education department. Members of the Maharashtra State English School Association (MSESA), who plan to protest at Azad Maidan today, claim that they have been denied recognition by the state authorities despite accepting their proposals to start schools back in 2010. However, state education department officials asserted that the schools should have waited for the government’s nod.
DS Lahane, president of MSESA, said, “We have been trying to get recognition for our schools since 2010, when our applications were accepted by the school education department in Mantralaya. We got permission from the Zilla Parishad to run pre-primary schools but we are still waiting to get recognition for primary schools.”
Recently, local education departments compiled a list of unrecognised schools and asked them to shut activities, putting the future of students in jeopardy. Nandan Nagre, joint director Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, said, “The education department might have accepted their proposals to start the schools. But until the state government granted them recognition, they should have not started their schools. Any school without recognition is illegal.”
According to MSESA, the state government had asked for proposals for new schools in 2010. Of 7,500 proposals, about 3,115 were accepted and sent to the Pune education office. A committee consisting of the chief minister, deputy chief minister and education minister along with other authorities was set up to scrutinise these applications. However, these 3,115 schools from different parts of the state such as Thane, Pune, Panvel, Nasik, Solapur are still waiting to get recognition from the authorities.
The Right to Education Act which came into force in 2010 specifies certain prerequisites for news schools, such as availability of playground, separate toilets for girls and boys, amongst others. Kakasaheb Surve, secretary of the MSESA, said, “We all are ready to follow the rules laid down in the Right to Education Act and on basis of that the government can inspect our schools, but give recognition at least to those institutions that deserve it.”
>> Admit 25 per cent students from economically or socially weaker sections
>> Schools must follow a teacher student ratio of 1:35 or maximum 1:40
>> Schools should have specific structural arrangements such as playgrounds, separate toilets for boys and girls, safe drinking water
>> Except unaided minority schools, others will have to get fresh government recognition and renew it every three years