Six months after the management of Old Sangvi’s National English School told the education department that they had decided to shut down the school due to non-payment of Right to Education (RTE) dues, parents and activists said the management continues to operate on the premises but has not continued RTE quota admissions. Parents and activists have accused the education department of turning a blind eye to the situation.
Activists wrote to Primary Education Director Dinkar Temkar, demanding an inquiry against the school management and also action against local education officer Jyotsna Shinde. In February 2018, parents of RTE quota students had complained to the education department that their children were allegedly not allowed to use the playground or participate in school events. School chairman Dominic Lobo had denied all allegations and had told the primary education department that he was shutting down the school from the next academic year.
But according to parents, Lobo continued to accept fees from students for the next academic year. Parents had complained to the education department, and the Pimpri-Chinchwad education officer was directed to inquire into the matter.
Mukund Kirdat, an AAP activist, said the school is now under a new management, which has kept all the old students except RTE quota ones. “Without physically inspecting the school, the officer has written that it has shut down and that the RTE students should be placed in other schools. The parents submitted both photo and video proof that the school was running for all old students, except RTE students. Later, we saw boards stating that Priyadarshini Group of Schools had taken over the school, but government officials said they have no record about this. So basically, the old management has handed over the school to a new management and kept all paying students and removed RTE students. How is this legal?” asked Kirdat.
One of the parents said they have written to the education department demanding to know the current legal status of the school being run on the premises. “Assuming that the school is shut down, the education department gave our children alternate schools. The school allotted to my child was a semi-government school, where not more than 10 students were studying in Class IV because teaching was not up to the mark. If I wanted to put my child in such a school, why would I take admission in RTE quota? Many of us have taken loans and got our children admitted to private schools. But if the old school is still running, we demand action against them,” said the parent on condition of anonymity.
Neither Lobo nor Shinde responded to calls or messages. But Jitendra Singh, CEO, Priyadarshini Schools, which has put up a board outside the National School saying it has taken over, said his group had not yet taken over the school.
According to Singh, Lobo approached them in June to take over the school but by then, many students had taken admission elsewhere. “We … have not formally taken over the school as the paperwork given by Lobo is not complete. Currently, only one of my administration officials is posted at the school. Until now, it is Lobo who has taken fees from students for this year. The old staff is still teaching there and they are being paid by him,” he said.
Asked why only fee-paying students were continued and not RTE quota ones, and also if the education department was informed of the takeover, Singh said, “We have not denied any such parents, maybe they took admissions elsewhere. We are not aware of who the RTE students are … we agreed to run the school on humanitarian grounds so that students do not have to suffer. But since the paperwork is not done until now, the school is not being run by Priyadarshini Schools. Also, we have not written to the education department since nothing is formalised.”