Few takers, but BMC to build two more schools in Mulund, Chembur

Updated: Dec 15, 2016, 20:35 IST | Laxman Singh |

By the looks of it, BMC has blinkers on. Despite the high dropout rates in its schools over the last few years, it has decided to pump Rs 37 crore into building two more schools

Since 2002, 373 of 453 schools have been shortlisted for repairs. Representational PictureSince 2002, 373 of 453 schools have been shortlisted for repairs. Representational Picture

By the looks of it, BMC has blinkers on. Despite the high dropout rates in its schools over the last few years, it has decided to pump Rs 37 crore into building two more schools. It will table the proposal before the standing committee’s approval on December 21. The city has over 5 lakh students in 453 BMC-run Hindi, Marathi, Urdu, Tamil and Telugu and Gujarati-medium schools.

A recent report by the NGO Praja Foundation revealed that school dro­p­outs had shot up to 71.2% from 2011-12 to 2015-16. According to it, 15 out of 100 students on an average dropped out of civic schools in 2015-16.

Not in touch with reality
The BMC’s decision to construct two more four-storey schools -- at Rs 21 crore in Mulund and Rs 16 crore in Chembur -- has not gone down well with activists and a number of corporators. They say the civic body should work on improving the standards of education and existing amenities, and bring down dropout rates.

Pointing out that a large number of schools have shut in recent years -- primarily Tamil and Telugu-medium -- owing to high dropouts, Congress corporator Devendra Amberkar alleged BMC hasn’t done enough to keep children in school. “It should first focus on improving the quality of education. New schools will not help the cause.” BMC had last built a new school two years ago at Wadala.

'Not enough'
Nikhil Desai, activist and member of F North Citizens’ Federation, said, “Records show that despite spending crores of rupees on repairing and reconstructing BMC schools, dropout rates have steadily risen. What can BMC achieve by constructing two buildings if there are no students? Often, the repairs were found to have been shoddy.”

In 2002, a committee appointed under Justice DR Dhanuka to assess the condition of municipal school buildings had recommended repairing 179 schools. Since then, the BMC has identified 194 other dilapidated schools in need of repairs.

OfficialSpeak
Mahesh Palkar, education officer, BMC, said, contrary to popular belief, the civic body has been taking measures to improve the quality of education in its schools. “It is not fair to say that students have dropped out of school since a number of those who don’t have a permanent address leave a school in their vicinity but join another when they move.”

The Praja report, however, punched holes in this claim. It showed a 3% decrease in enrollment in 2015-16. Pointing out that raising the standards of education in civic schools will take time, Palkar said the BMC has conducted and planned several skill refresher sessions for teachers of Std I-VIII. It recently tied up with British Council for a training session; another with Praja Foundation is slated for the coming week.

The BMC also offers mid-day meals, school stationery (like bags, water bottles and books) to lure students to schools.

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