Sorry state of affairs at M-East ward schoolshttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/sorry-state-of-affairs-at-meast-ward-schools/

Sorry state of affairs at M-East ward schools

Many do not comply with RTE norms,says BMC study

Of the 11 municipal schools catering to children from class I to VII in M-East ward,only three have water connections for toilets,with no separate washrooms for boys and girls. Of the remaining,in three,children and staff make do without basic amenities. The 11 schools,which have a capacity of 4,645 students,have 9,058 students enrolled.

These findings are part of a gap analysis of school infrastructure by BMC.

“Students and teachers are struggling. Schools have toilets,but they are not being used due to lack of water,” says a provisional report by Apnalaya,an NGO appointed by BMC for the analysis.

The condition of the 11 school buildings has been described in the report as a “major gap”. “Most of the problems are due to leakage during monsoon,broken windows and doors,toilets that are not functioning and water supply issues,” it says.

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The Right to Education Act,2009,which came into effect in Maharashtra in 2010,allowed all schools across the state three years to comply with mandatory infrastructure norms. These include basic classroom facilities,separate bathrooms for girls and boys,playgrounds and libraries. The scheduled deadline for compliance was March 31,2013.

As a pilot initiative,BMC chose M-East ward,which comprises Govandi,Mankhurd and parts of Chembur,for the analysis. According to the 2009 Human Development Report,M-East has the lowest human development index at 0.05 as compared to the city’s average of 0.6. The ward’s average life-expectancy at 39 years is way below the city’s average of 53 years. Slum settlements account for 79 per cent of its total area of 33 sq km,which is the highest slum density in Mumbai.

The report on 11 out of 24 schools in M-East,recently submitted to BMC,also reveals a chronic deficiency of teaching staff in municipal schools. Out of a requirement of 200 teachers,a gap of 22 exists. Three schools are functioning without a headmaster.

“The number of children expected per class is based upon regular expectations for schools,” says the report,pegging “regular expectations” of teacher-student ratio at 1:24. Based on the RTE Act,which mandates a teacher-student ratio of 1:30 for primary schools,there is currently a gap of 80 teachers. There is also a gap of 11 peons from the required 32. “Some schools have no peons and teachers do all the work,” says the report.

While there is a gap of 367 benches,63 classrooms do not have tables or chairs for teachers.

“The schools that do have benches,do not have them in good condition. Teachers often bring their own material,” the report says,adding that these are the numbers available despite missing data.

While five schools do not have dustbins,only four have hired private cleaning services. “Sometimes they have difficulty cleaning due to lack of water supply,” the gap analysis says.

Though the Act requires each school to have at least one counselor and public library,analysis reveals that neither of these facilities is available for children. Only six schools have a playground and most are in poor condition.

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Samajwadi Party corporator Rais Shaikh of M-East ward,welcomed the critical analysis report. “For the first time,the civic body has dared to take a positive step towards understanding what are its gaps in providing public education. Third party audits are necessary as part of the RTE Act and I am confident that BMC will take action after reading the report,” Shaikh said.