Letters from politicians and bureaucrats recommending candidates for admissions is routine for schools every academic year,say principals. While school managements allege they are pressured to give admissions to such cases,politicians claim they send recommendation letters only to help the needy.
Basanti Roy,former divisional state board chairman and an educationist,said schools often have no option but to oblige VIPs. The schools are either pressured by education officials or the recommendation letters by politicians and other VIPs. It is difficult to turn down these recommendations as they have to deal with the officials frequently. Some schools even have a policy to reserve a few seats, said Roy.
A recent RTI application by Nana Kute-Patil of NGO Buland Chhawa revealed that schools in the city had received 591 recommendation letters since 2011. These letters are either sent directly to the schools or addressed to the deputy director of school education.
Politicians,however,say they only recommend cases to schools or to the education officers concerned but dont pressure them. I give recommendation letter to those who come to me but also ask schools to follow stipulated norms. There are seats under management quota and schools can accommodate the recommended student under that. Pressuring schools for admissions is wrong and we dont do that, said Vinod Tawde,MLC and leader of Opposition in the legislative council.
Fauziya Khan,Minister of State (MoS) for Education,said,We do not write to the schools directly. We just ask those who come to us to approach the school and if the school refuses to give them admission by conducting a lottery system,they can give us a written complaint and we will take necessary action.
Patils RTI also revealed that most of these recommendation letters (337 out of 591) were sent to convent schools. In June,a delegation from the Christian community with the Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE),which runs 150 convent schools in Mumbai,complained to the state minorities commission citing that it was under pressure from political groups during admission season.
Its frustrating to get requests from people we deal with on a regular basis in the education department; they think they have done us a favour and we should return it by offering seats to them. We feel helpless every year during admissions, said the principal of convent school in Colaba.
Many schools feel they have to deal with this issue tactfully. The important thing is to deal with this issue firmly in accordance with the norms. We cannot control the flood of recommendations. We have to consider these independently, said Guru Prasad Rege,trustee of Balmohan Vidyamandir in Dadar.