AIDED schools that cater to more than 1,000 slum children in Mankhurd have moved the Bombay High Court after the state rejected their request to allot them the land on which they have been running for over two decades. The school trust that runs mostly from funds from bodies like the ONGC and HPCL has sought the HC’s intervention, arguing that such a move would only jeopardise the future prospects of the marginalised students.
Siddharth Shikshan Prasarak Mandal through its schools — Padmini Gaikwad Primary School and Vidya Vikas Vidyalaya — set up in the 1990s got government recognition in 1997 and 2004, respectively. While education is free in the Marathi and Hindi medium school, students pay a Rs 200 in the English-medium school.
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Prior to the registration of the trust in 1989, the petition says, the trust set up Balwadi services in Maharashtra Nagar, Mankhurd, that initially catered to 25 students. As there was no school in the vicinity, children of workers from marginalised communities either had to travel long distances or dropped out of the education system.
The trust claimed the land, roughly 1,500 sqm, originally meant for school and, since 1998, it had been seeking allotment of the land. It said on an average, 35 students from Vidya Vikas Vidyalaya appear for the Maharashtra state board examination annually. The pass percentage is approximately 75 per cent compared to 64 per cent in government-run schools. Contending that despite difficulties, the education and support the school provides has ensured that students not only obtain a first class but some are also merit-holders. “Students from the school have made careers in engineering and public services,” the petitioner says. The trust fears as a result of redevelopment, the land will go into road development. In another petition in 2008, the trust had sought the court’s direction to the civic body for allotment.
The HC had then ordered the civic body to decide on the issue within six months. The trust said the municipal body tried convincing them to move to seven tenements, which are a part of the redevelopment scheme.
Faced with rejection of its application in February 2014, the trust moved the HC.
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