The Delhi education department will not hold elections for School Management Committee (SMC) this year, and will instead nominate parents who apply online.
SMCs are representative bodies which include 12 parents, the school principal, a social worker and an MLA nominee. Over the past few years, SMCs have been at the forefront of the AAP’s move to transform government schools. In 2017, the government held elections for parents where observers and superintendents were appointed.
In a circular issued on July 1, the Directorate of Education, Right to Education branch, said the process would take place online.
The circular stated, “Only twelve numbers of parents / guardians of children admitted in such schools can become the member of each SMC. The criteria of short listing of the applicants will be the same as per the approved criteria for the composition of SMC under which proportionate representation is to be given to the parents or guardians of children belonging to disadvantaged group and weaker section and provided also that fifty percent of members of such committees shall be women.”
It also added that if the number of eligible applicants, as per norms, was more than 12 for any school, the RTE branch will conduct “an online draw of lots” within three days of the application deadline.
The last date for application is July 8.
The move, however, has not been appreciated by many.
Amwad Hussain, 42, SMC vice chairperson of the Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya, Mayur Vihar, Phase 1, said, “This is not an election but a selection. Normally, parents who are interested stand for elections, and they are selected by a democratic process that involves other parents. I have filled the form, but we do not know where these forms are going and who is going to do the selection.”
With a son in Class 7, Hussain worried that the SMC may not be accountable if not elected.
“A lot of parents across schools have been facing issues filling the online forms. If someone has already used their number, then it is becoming an issue. It is possible for people to fill in fake applications.”
He suggested that the elections should have been postponed for six months and the tenure of the current SMC, extended.
Manju Devi, 42, was among those who faced an issue filling the online form. “I could only register using my old phone number. I have not been using my old number as my phone got stolen and I cancelled that number as I was afraid of misuse. Now, all communication will be made to that number. The old method of election was much simpler…” she said.
Jyoti Mahore, field manager, NGO Joint Operation for Social Help (JOSH), reiterated Hussain’s point saying, “Elections should have been delayed as many parents have gone back to their villages and many do not have recharge on their phones to fill out online forms.”
Rajni, 40, a mother of three, however, said the online elections were necessary keeping the current situation in mind. “I did not face any problem filling the form. It was fairly simple; I had to fill in my name, address, children’s names etc. SMC selection is important because it will have an important role to play while taking major decisions regarding how to run schools as they are physically shut.”
Director of Education, Binay Bhushan, meanwhile, said, “Generally, the number of parents who apply are not more than the required number of 12 per school. In case there is not enough representation, we will extend the date.
“But reconstituting the SMC is of paramount importance at the moment. We need their help to reach students and get them on board with online classes and help with resource distribution. So, we had to go ahead with the process,” he added.
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