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Education Officials Face Flak for Illegal Educational Institutions

May 12, 2023

By Ronita Torcato

In a crackdown on unauthorised educational institutions, Mr Sandeep Sangave, Deputy Director of Education, Mumbai has despatched a missive to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) education officers and inspectors warning them that they will be booked for failure to shut down illegal schools. 

In his letter, which has been sent to education officers in Mumbai, as well as Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts, Mr Sangave has asked for the speedy submission of reports on action taken, non compliance of which will render them complicit ” in crime. ” 

Mr Sangave’s letter is a follow up to the one sent by Mr Suraj Mandhare, Commissioner (Education), Maharashtra in April directing education officers to take action against unauthorised schools, including non-state board schools that have affiliation certificates.They were asked to submit a report by April 30.

Mr Sangave’s letter was sent after the concerned education officers and inspectors failed to submit a report on the closure of schools by the April 30 deadline.

It may be noted that the BMC is in charge of the Primary Department only. The Secondary Section comes under the State Government. 

As of date, some 674 schools across Maharashtra including 218 primary unaided private schools under BMC jurisdiction are operating without Right to Education (RTE) approval. Specifically, these unlicensed/unauthorised schools are reported to have failed to renew their recognition certificates which are mandated under the RTE Act.

According to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, schools are required to renew their RTE approval every three years. On receipt of RTE approval, which is valid for class 1 to 8,  the schools are required to submit balance sheets to the state government and post the same on their websites. 

Failure to renew, means that schools may be fined Rs 10,000 per day. In addition, the management of these schools will also incur a Rs one lakh fine. It may be noted that from the 218, only 62 schools, deemed illegal, have been closed. BMC’s education department said that 30 more schools have been issued a letter of closure.

The data was released after the Maharashtra Rajya Vidyarthi, Palak, Shikshak Mahasangh, a statewide organisation,and parent activist, Nitin Dalvi, filed a Right to Information Act (RTI) request. 

Last year, the state government had directed divisional deputy directors and other district-level education officials to act against illegal schools before commencement of the academic year 2022-23 However, no action was taken. 

Dalvi has alleged that schools are reluctant to obtain recognition certificates as they will have to make their accounts public. Schools are also expected to upload their recognition certificates on their websites. With admission under RTE for the academic year 2023-24 underway, schools that do not have recognition are technically ‘illegal’. RTE reserves 25% seats for the weaker sections and disadvantaged groups. 

A number of schools said the COVID pandemic delayed renewal of certificates, However, some have not renewed certificates since 2016.A defaulter list was made public in May 2022. Dalvi want fines to be imposed on these schools.

Anjanee Rao, who has coordinated co-curricular activities with educational institutions, says, “I think all they have to do is apply for the recognition. Those which are already recognized schools need to renew that. Otherwise any number of new illegal schools will materialize and there will be no control on what they teach. Also there should be transparency in the accounts of all schools.”

Education Commissioner Mandhare had urged parents to scrutinize school documents and registration numbers on the state government’s online portal before seeking admission. 

The state education board had inspected as many as 1300 schools earlier this year. According to Mandhare, the documents of 800 schools contained errors; these schools faced the prospect of de-accreditation if the No Objection Certificate (NOC), the approval certificate of the concerned board, as well as the letter of intent issued by the state government, were not in order. De-accreditated schools usually seek relief from the courts.

Also Read: NMIMS Navi Mumbai Embarks on Major Expansion Plans

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