The state education board has asked all schools to provide photographs of the teachers, other staff members, PTA members, school premises and toilets to maintain a database of accurate records

In the next few days, don't be surprised if you visit your child's school and find no staff present in the building. No, there is no strike on the anvil, but the Maharashtra state education department is collating information on various aspects of schools in the state. Due to this, the principal, teachers and other staff members have to act in accordance and undertake a photo shoot.

Smile please! Hume High School (Marathi) in Byculla displays the
noticeboard inside the premises, notifying parents to be present for the
photo shoot

The education department has distributed a booklet to each school wherein schools will have to paste photos of staff and infrastructure facilities -- premises, toilets -- on hand. The directive makes it compulsory for state schools to provide the details, as the department wants the School Development Plan 2012-13 booklet up-to-date. Moreover, the department has also requested photographs of the members of the Parents -Teachers Association (PTA) of the school. While education inspectors claim that the data is being recorded for budgetary purposes towards allocation of finances, some school principals maintain they are clueless about the reason.

Guessing game
Michael Pinto, principal of St. John the Baptist High School, Thane, said, "The booklet wanted data on the school building, details of staff, school premises' pictures and PTA association pictures. Although we have submitted the information, we have no clue as to the purpose of the exercise. It could be for budget planning or for the state to maintain information of schools after the Right to Education Act came into effect."

B D Puri, education inspector of South Mumbai, said, "Yes, the information is being collected after RTE came into effect. Besides the government wanting every school to maintain a website, they also want to keep a track on each school. The government will have a clear picture about schools adhering to RTE."

With no clear perspective on the intention of the exercise, another school inspector from the Western Zone, P Pawar said, "This information is required by the government for budget planning."
Meanwhile, expressing her apprehensions about the futility of the programme, Arundhati Chavan, president of the PTA United Forum, said, "The pictures can be manipulated. How will the government verify if the pictures are genuine? Schools that don't form a PTA can ask any parent to submit photographs. I don't think this idea will have the desired results." 

Calling the shots
Pictures required by the booklet for PTA:

PTA vice president
PTA secretary
PTA members -- eleven or fewer.
One teachers' representative.
If private school, then picture of management head. If BMC school, then corporator.