Illegal schools flourish, as govt turns a blind eye

Mar 15, 2013, 08:44 IST | Kranti Vibhute

The state was to extract fines of Rs 1 lakh from each of the 29 blacklisted institutions and Rs 10,000 for each day they continued to run and also lodge police cases against them; almost a year later, no such action has been taken

Showing uncharacteristic zeal, the state education department in April last year went ahead and declared as many as 29 schools illegal, in the city’s western zone, making them liable to pay Rs 1 lakh as fine, and an additional Rs 10,000 for each day that they remained open after being blacklisted. The government was also to have lodged police complaints against each of the schools.

But going by MiD DAY’s discovery, the education department’s initiative to cleanse the city of illegally-run sections in these schools ran out of steam fast -not a penny of the minimum Rs 29 lakh has been collected by way of fines, nor has a single police complaint been lodged against any of the schools.

Twentynine schools in areas like Malad, Goregaon, Kandivli, Andheri and Borivli were labelled illegal last year by the western zone of the state education department. As per existing government rules, each school has to cough up Rs 1 lakh as penalty, and if it continues to run classes for students of the illegal sections, it has to pay an extra Rs 10,000 every day.

The rulebook also says that the education department’s zonal office is to file a police complaint with the local police station. If students continue to attend classes at these schools they may lose scholarships, and will not be allowed to appear for any board-level exams. Having blacklisted schools that haven’t followed the rules, the education department has itself been lax when it comes to following the rules. The only rule they have stuck to is the one that required them to publish an advertisement in a newspaper declaring the school as illegal, cautioning parents not to admit their kids there.

B Mane, school education inspector-in-charge, western zone, said, “The rule is to collect Rs 1 lakh from the school as fine once it is declared illegal. If the authorities continue to keep the school open despite getting a notice from the education department, they will have to pay a fine of Rs 10, 000 per day in addition to that.

A police complaint is also filed against the school. According to my knowledge, no action has yet been taken on any school in the western suburbs, which have been served notices. We will decide on the next step when orders from the state government come in before the new academic year begins.” The education department has also been procrastinating when it comes to following up on the matter and checking if the schools have indeed closed their doors to students, as per the rules.

Not shutting shop
MiD DAY spoke to several of the blacklisted schools and learnt that they haven’t closed down the sections which they have been running illegally. They have, however, submitted papers for getting no-objection certificates, and are waiting for the government to revert.

Mohammed Anis Siddiqui, a trustee of Rose Mary English School in Malad, which was declared illegal last year, said, “Instead of destroying the career of students, we are ready to pay the full amount of fine that the education department wants. We are ready to accept the conditions that they apply. But let our school run, as we are serving poor students in our locality.

My school has 500 students, studying in Stds I to VII. Stds I to III are recognised by the BMC, as they fall under the primary section. I have applied for recognition for Stds IV to VII, and the relevant papers have been submitted. We will hopefully get permission before the academic year starts. When we got a notice from the department, we replied to them, submitting all the papers.”

Sudhakar Sawant, a teacher of Good Shepherd School in Goregaon (E), said, “Our school has 200 students and we run it from Stds I to X. We have applied for no-objection certificate and are hoping that it gets done soon. It’s been four months since we applied for it, but we haven’t yet received a reply from the state government.

We were only served a notice at the beginning of last year, after which we replied to the department.” Chandrashekhar Dubey, trustee of Holy Mother High School in Kurar Village, Malad (E), said, “Because of political rivalry with a local MLA, my school was blacklisted. My school is only recognised from Std I to Std VII. I am in the process of getting recognition for the secondary section.”

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