Mumbai: Parents ditching BMC schools for unrecognised ones

Updated: Dec 18, 2019, 07:20 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

White paper on municipal education shows a drop in number of BMC-run schools since the academic year 2014-15

Enrollment in municipal schools has dropped by 31 per cent. File pic
Enrollment in municipal schools has dropped by 31 per cent. File pic

A white paper on the state of municipal education in the city released by Praja Foundation on Tuesday said that Mumbai parents prefer unrecognised schools run in single rooms or under tin roofs over civic schools.

The data shows that such unrecognised schools, which numbered only 80 in the academic year 2014-15 have risen to 225 in the academic year 2018-19. On the other hand, since 2014-15, enrollment in civic schools fell by 31 per cent, with the number of schools dropping from 1,254 to 1,154.

Nitai Mehta, trustee and founder of Praja Foundation said, "This is a shocking shift which should be of concern." One of the reasons for this shift is parents who want to send their wards to private schools but cannot afford the fees. Such small schools, with lesser fees, are their alternative.

Extrapolating on how there is a growing urge among parents to send their children to private schools, Mehta continued, "Although schools run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation give free education along with additional facilities such as uniforms, stationery and school-bags, parents prefer unrecognised schools. These schools are run in single rooms in residential buildings or in shanties in slums. They do charge low fees but there are no other facilities. And yet an increasing number of people want to send their kids there."

In 2014-15, there were 14,401 students in unrecognised schools. In 2018-19, there are 40,616. Whereas, civic schools had 3,92,008 students in 2014-15. In 2018-19, they have 2,71,486. On the other hand, the number of students enrolled in private aided and unaided schools has also seen a slight drop. Lack of knowledge about unrecognised schools is one of the causes of this trend.

The NGO conducted a household survey in July this year to understand the reasons behind this shift. The survey covered 22,845 households and 3,955 children in the age group of 6-14 years. Out of these, only 837 were found to be going to municipal schools. Jennifer Spencer, the Project Coordinator at Praja, said, "Some of the major reasons behind parents ditching BMC-run schools include unavailability of stationary or uniform, no health check-ups, low quality of education, low attendance of teachers and low interaction with parents. But the most important appears to be the lack of education till Std X in a single school. Municipal schools where education is offered from Junior KG to class X are performing well according to the data."

The white paper also pointed out an increasing BMC budget for education. The budget in 2018-19 was higher than the 2014-15 budget by 8.9 per cent even as enrolment since then has dropped by 31 per cent.

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