A survey conducted by Child Rights and You (CRY) has found that a large percentage of schools in Maharashtra lack adequate infrastructure and teachers. The survey comes at a time when the state government is planning to shut down 1,300 public schools on account of low enrollment.
CRY conducted the survey in 122 schools in eight districts of Maharashtra. It found that 57 per cent of the schools did not have a full-time headmaster. Teachers and students were responsible for cleaning the toilets in 69 per cent of the schools. The survey also found that 13 per cent schools did not have sturdy buildings and 37 per cent did not have compound walls.
In more than half of the schools surveyed, there was no water filtration system installed. On a positive note, there was a slight improvement in the availability of water in toilets. Around 11,000 students were surveyed in 122 schools in Pune, Ahmednagar, Gadchiroli Parbhani, Aurangabad, Latur, Beed and Mumbai.
The survey was conducted in association with Bal Hakk Abhiyan to check the progress that government schools have made in complying with the Right to Education (RTE) Act. The survey maps schools based on 10 indicators: school buildings, availability of teaching staff, training of teachers, availability of library, status of toilet facilities, availability of drinking water, availability of separate kitchen shed, availability of playground, any instance of admission denied to student and functioning of school management committee.
“Education Minister Vinod Tawde had promised that he would ensure compliance of these 10 indicators, but that hasn’t happened. Hence, the quality of schools have not improved. Now the government plans to shut down some schools citing quality. It is a cycle,” said B P Suryavanshi, a member of Bal Hakk Abhiyan.
Kumar Nilendu from CRY said that the survey helped in understanding the degree of compliance with the RTE Act at the grassroots level. “Similar surveys should be conducted by the government for the improvement of the quality of our schools,” he said. He demanded that the vacant posts of headmasters should be filled up immediately.
Education minister Tawde and principal secretary of school education Nand Kumar were unavailable for a comment.