The number of “unrecognised” schools in Pune district has decreased from 120 to 71. There is a one per cent margin of error because data is still in the final stage of compilation.
Even as the District Information System for Education (DISE) data shows a dip in schools that violate norms, questions are being raised by experts as to why these schools are allowed to function in the first place, that too under the noses of the Primary Education Directorate and the office of the state’s Education Commissioner in the city.
Zilla Parishad officials say it’s hard to take action on erring schools. “DISE data is in the final stages of preparation. There may be an error of 1 per cent. Out of the 71 unrecognised schools in the district, 26 are in Pune Municipal Corporation area and 28 in Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation area,” said a Zilla Parishad official who did not wish to be named.
Zilla Parishad education officer Mushtaq Shaikh said, “Right to Education Act prescribes a fine of Rs 1 lakh for such schools. Last year we served notices on schools and asked them to pay the fine. They refused. Since they are unrecognised and private, unaided schools, and since punishment under RTE is limited, it is hard to punish erring schools. Once DISE data arrives, we will issue notices to the unrecognised ones.”
On why these are not recognised schools, Shaikh said, “As per RTE Act, new schools need at least 1 acre of land. In city areas, this is not possible and hence they do not get recognition. Secondly many of them open schools hoping to get recognition at a later date. During inspections of schools, they are found lacking in necessary infrastructure.”
Educational activist Matin Mujawar said, “Everything is politically managed. Schools have become a money minting business amid political patronage. Hence the education department is often unable to take action. Till now, we have been saying Congress government was corrupt. But if that is so what is the BJP government doing about it? If we want ‘acche din’ in education, we need such schools to be shut down. We have high hopes in education commissioner S Chockalingam. He needs to act swiftly so that future of children studying in these schools is saved.”