Alleging violation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, which mandates that every child in the age group of 6 to 14 years will have a right to free and compulsory elementary education (till Class 8), a complaint submitted by an education forum to the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child rights (MSCPCR) says that over 1,100 primary schools run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) do not have Class 8 currently.
“There are over 4.07 lakh students studying across 1,270 primary schools of the civic body, but Class 8 have been started in only 100 of them. We obtained this information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. This forces students to shift to expensive schools… Many, however, prefer to quit schooling as it is out of their reach.
Some are forced to enter child labour,” says the letter submitted by “Mumbai Shikshan Companikaran Virodhi Abhiyan”.
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The letter cites the example of the BMC-run Ayodhya Nagar School in Chembur, stating that 65 of its students were supposed to be in Class 8 in 2012-13, but had to leave the school as it had classes only till Std 7 and join a private school.
The complainant has appealed to the MSCPCR that the expenses incurred by the parents of students who were supposed to study in Class 8 for the 2012-13 academic year should be reimbursed.
“Over 90 per cent BMC primary schools are denying children their rights. We urge lawmakers to come up with solutions before June 2015 so that students are not denied their basic right,” said Ghanshyam Sonar, forum member.
The complainant has said that since Class 8 is not there in many civic-run schools, which forces students to study in a private school or drop out, their entire annual fees and expenses should be reimbursed by BMC administration.
“In this regard, directions must be given to BMC, school education minister, mayor and head of BMC’s education committee. It is the responsibility of the state government and local administration to facilitate requirements according to the provisions of the RTE Act,” says the complainant.
The group has also appealed to MSCPCR that inquiry must be set up against the school education minister, mayor and BMC’s education committee chairman for violating RTE Act as well as the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.
“The definition of primary schools was changed in 2009 after the RTE Act was introduced, to include Class 8. It’s true that many BMC schools are yet to comply with the RTE Act and have only till class 7, forcing many children to drop out as they cant afford to study in a private school. This needs to be addressed urgently,” said a BMC official.
Deputy Municipal Commissioner Ramesh Pawar said, “We are currently in the process of adding Class 8 in about 289 more primary schools.”
The MSCPCR, meanwhile, has sought a response from the BMC after which it will pass an order.