Aided Schools heading for a closure

Education Policies of the Maharashtra Govt

The Right  of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act  2009

[ RTE Act ]


I writing this article I make a presumption that school education is an important subject for the State and central Govt. I fear to prove myself otherwise. Since we are professionals let me make a point wise presentation.

1. Education is a concurrent subject in the constitution.( Article 246 List – III)  This means that laws regarding education can be made by the State and Central Govt.

2. The subject of Education in Maharashtra is administered through :

  • State Govt Resolutions  – GR’s
  • Secondary School Code  – It is only guiding in nature. No Constitutional force
  • Maharashtra Employees of Private   School Regulation Act 1977  [ MEPS ]
  • National Council of Teacher Education Guidelines        – At Central Level
  • Sarva Shikshan Abhiyan [ SSA ]                           –  Central Govt Scheme
  • Right to Free and Compulsory Education  Act  2009  – Central Act – RTE

3. Till 1973 , school in Maharashtra which were following SSC pattern have been funded/aided by the State Govt of Maharashtra, irrespective of the medium of teaching

4. Schools in Maharashtra can follow SSC pattern of education ( administered by the State ) or ICSE, CBSE or of late IB patter of education. Interesting to note that newer patterns of school education, borrowed from western notions and practices are being marketed day-in and day-out and expectedly we Indian fall for anything foreign at any price tag.

5. Schools in Maharashtra are either :

  • Completely state owned and controlled ( State Govt Schools ) or
  • Owned & controlled by private NGO’s with State aid ( Private Aided Schools )
  • Owned & controlled by private NGO’s without State aid ( Private Unaided Schools )

6. ICSE, CBSE or IB schools do not get any state aid. They are private unaided schools.

7. The First Education Shock : From the year 1973 or so, newly formed private english medium schools even in SSC pattern were denied State Govt aid as a pre-condition to their registration under the SSC pattern. The reason was that the State Govt did not have adequate funds for education. However all private english medium schools, following SSC pattern and registered prior to 1973 continued getting State Govt aid.  Refer Maharashtra Govt GR Dt: 25-5-73.

8. Thus all private schools established or started after 1973 esp English medium were registered and approved but with NO state aid. These became private unaided schools. And the private schools prior to 1973 continued getting aid and these were the private aided schools.

9. Most the Catholic or Christian missionary SSC schools ( convents schools as we popularly understand them )  fall into the category of private aided schools since they were formed prior to 1973 and continue getting state till date .

10.  Private aided schools get the following 3 types of grant or aid from the State Govt :

  • Teachers salaries grant                     ( For all teachers )
  • Non teaching staff salaries grant    ( Like peons, librarians, laboratory staff etc )
  • Non teaching grant               ( for repairs, electricity, stationery, back office exp, telephones , maintenance, play material , blackboards, etc )

11.  The Second Education Shock : As justified by the Maharashtra Govt, to reduce State expenditures, from the year 2000 onwards, newly appointed teachers in all aided schools ( English medium and vernacular medium ) would be termed as SHIKSHAN SEWAKS and were to be given salaries @ Rs. 3,000/- for D.Ed’s and Rs. 4,000/- for B.Ed’s. These Shikshan sewaks were to be treated as on contractual basis for 3 years whereafter these would be absorbed in the regular pay scales ( 4th, 5th or 6th pay commission levels ). Salaries of Shikshan Sewaks were also to be paid by the State Govt.  It is interesting to know that as per the Minimum Wages Advisory Board ( Ministry of Labour ), the minimum  wages for skilled sweepers /cleaners is Rs. 180/- per day which translates into Rs. 5,400/- per month of 30 days and the  minimum  wages for skilled constructions workers is Rs. 240/- per day which translates into Rs. 7,200/- per month of 30 days. Still teachers ( Shikshan Sewaks ) are paid below even these levels.

12.  The State Govt curtailed state expenditure by restricting teachers salaries to such pathetic levels. And glorifed these teachers by calling them Shikshan Sewaks. But the State did not think of curtailing its expenditures on other state employees by creating other glorified positions like Sewak Police, Sewak BMC employee, Sewak IAS/IPS, Sewak Secretaries, Sewak Ministers, Sewak BEST employee, Sewak Mantralaya employee etc.  How strange ??

13.  The Third Education Shock : Amongst the Shikshan sewaks, D.Ed’s would be permitted for teaching the primary ( 1st to 4th Std ) and 5th to 7th Std and B.Ed’s would be permitted for teaching 8th to 10th Std. B.Ed’s were not allowed to be appointed in D.Ed slot and neither vice versa.  This virtually meant that if a D.Ed was not available, that teaching post ought to be kept vacant.  This issue went to Bombay High court, which confirmed that B.Ed’s were not allowed to be appointed in D.Ed postings. Of late there has been some relaxation on this issue by the education dept. But still things are tough and worse. Hence say if a convent school does not get a Good D.Ed teacher, the children have to go without a teacher.

14.  The Fourth Education Shock : Again due to poor state finances , there was a complete ban on appointment of non teaching staff like peons, librarians, laboratory assistants, watchman’s, cleaners, clerks etc till about 2005. Thereafter the same was allowed but with major restrictions.  For your knowledge as per the State Govt resolution (GR) dt: 25-11-05, the salaries for Peons is fixed at Rs. 1,700/- p.m for 3 years and Librarians  is Rs. 2,500/- and school clerks is Rs. 2,000/-. And even the numbers were extremely restricted ( Eg: only 4 peons allowed for a school having 1,500 children ) . Are these realistic levels ?

15.  The Fifth Education Shock : Due to poor state finances, the Non teaching grant, was miserably fixed @ 6% or 9% or so of the annual teachers salary grant , which was even otherwise low due to Shikshan sewak concept. It is a sad truth that this 6% annual non teaching grant meant for  repairs, electricity, stationery, toilet cleaning , security , back office exp, telephones , maintenance, play material, laboratory chemicals, blackboards, etc etc , is not even enough to pay for electric bills of the schools, leave aside other repairs expenditures, black boards, stationery, telephones etc.

16.  The Sixth Education Shock : The worse part is that even the above stated Non teaching grant of this 6% or 9% comes AFTER YEARS OF FOLLOW UP with the State Govt dept and truck loads of data and follow ups. Many private aided schools have not got their non teaching aid for the last 3 to 6 years. What would happen if a simple electric bill of a school is not paid for 3 to 6 years due to the absence of such State aid ?

17.  The Seventh Education Shock : To win votes and as a populist measure the State Govt still has the audacity to state that since salaries and non-teaching grant, though miserably small in amount, is provided by the State Govt, the aided schools are NOT ALLOWED TO CHARGE FEES from the students.  This leads to a situation where on the one hand salaries of Shikshan sewaks are paid at pathetically low levels and non-teaching aid is not even sufficient to pay electric and/or telephone bills of the school and is delayed, on the other hand, the school cannot raise funds from fees. This is a catch 22 situation. Survival of the schools itself is at stake.

18.  Sheer common sense demands to ask that how did then these schools manage to run all these years and even today ? Either by drawing upon their financial reserves or external donations or by fearfully and sadly charging some paltry amount like Rs. 3,000/- or so per student , at the begining of the academic year in the name of computer fees, workshop fees,  or activity fees, or in the names of books or uniform etc. It is a helpless situations for these private aided schools. Else the other option is just close down, leaving thousands of students stranded.

19.  Thus thankfully these private aided schools have somehow run these magnanimous institutions inspite of these intolerable pressures and unjust policies and also borne the wrath of some disgruntled parents questioning rather doubting them about raising such amounts, leave aside admission pressures from politicians.

20.  Due to this Shikshan Sewak scenario and abysmally low salaries, not even suffice to exist in expensive cities like Mumbai, Pune etc , good quality and dedicated teachers are just and will not be available.  This leads to a fall in quality of education and obvious lack of dedication for no fault of the Shikshan sewak teachers, who obviously cannot survive on salary levels fo Rs. 3,000/- or Rs. 4,000/-. This in turn leads to growth of coaching classes , drop outs, teachers taking private tuitions, bursts or outrage by teachers ( an emotional phenomenon ) or a shift by the affordable class to private un-aided schools offering ICSE, CBSE, IB or such patterns who charge high fees but seemingly provide quality education.  The rift between the poor and rich thus further widens. The worst part is that often in rural areas , D.Ed’s and B.Eds teachers are ready to pay bribes of lacs just to get the post of a shikshan sewak since they find it better to stay at low salary for 3 years in the hope of getting regularized later.

21.  The Eight Education Shock : To discriminate against English medium schools the State Govt vide a GR Dt: 24-5-2002 came up with an idea of charging fees { based on Ration card colour } only for students studying in English Medium Aided Schools and in turn reducing the aid to such schools. Further again vide a GR Dt: 15-7-2002 the State Govt introduced a  Primary School Certificate  Exam [  PSC ] i.e a Board exam system for Std : IV. Fortunately due to vociferous protests and judicial intervention, these insane absurd ideas of the State Govt were struck down.  But the adventurism of the State to administer school education on a trial and error basis continued undauntingly.

22.  And now the Final shock : The Govt of India has made Education free and compulsory from 6 to 14 years of age and till Std 8th. That is Right to Education Act [ RTE ] , in short. And to add salt to the already bleeding education system, certain absolutely impracticable and illogical rather absurd sections have been inserted in the RTE Act. Most of the writers have rather seen the populist side of this Act than its long term implication and to me such an Act sounds the death knell of school education atleast in the metropolitan cities

23.  A word of caution : I am not against the poor getting free education but saddled with a proven history of any Govt’s poor execution of schemes and Acts and corruption, the noble intentions are literally unachievable. The facts, realities and problems of the urban areas differ from the rural areas and this is neither studied nor designed in the new RTE Act. Further unlike other areas, a trial and error based approach in education and faulty laws can be suicidal for the generations to come. This is where the crux of the problem lies.

24.  Lets take a look at some of the important rather strange sections of the RTE Act and comments thereon :

Sec :   38 :- Every child shall get free education till Std: 8th. No fees or charges or

Sec :  12 :-    an expenses which may prevent him from pursuing education. This means that even books, stationery, uniform etc  have to be free. Who bears these costs ? State or Centre ? And what if delays for years take place , like Non teaching grant ? But Private unaided schools can still charge fees such that 25% seats in Std. 1st only have to be reserved for Weaker & disadvantaged sections with no isolations.

Comments :

Education was even otherwise free even before this Act. So practically there is nothing new. What may be new is that now even that paltry amount collected by private aided schools to somehow run the school , will not be allowed, under any name. Hence the run to close down the school is in fact accelerated. With almost all State Govt having deficits and a rotting system of corruption and execution, where will further money come in from to fund such a gigantic populist measure ? By default there is no harm nor anything wrong in having the rich and poor in a society. We do not live in a wonderland. With private unaided schools and many of them being the elitist ones ( SSC or ICSE or CBSE or IB ) actual execution of a system of 25% seats reserved for the weaker and disadvantaged sections at Std.I may pose serious threats to disrupt the social and secular fabric in the society and of the child at a tender age. I appreciate there is no fault of the innocent children in they being from the class of weaker and disadvantaged section. But discrimination is bound to happen, whether spoken openly or in hushed up tones. Any 100 million dollar empire parents may not want their siblings to rub shoulders with a child coming from some disturbed family abusing in filthy language or may be a poor vegetable vendor or a some convicted terrorist. That parent is paying a bombshell for his childs education and there is nothing wrong if he wants the best in all respects as per his definitin. This may sound unfair to write and I appreciate that as such powerty is not wrong but realities have to be appreciated lest realities stare at us and produce wild manifestations in future. As Nani Palkhiawala righty said “ We Indians are individually intelligent but collectively foolish “. Evidently this will result in the affordable class sending their children out of the country even for school education. Time will prove.

Sec :   8          State Govt or Local authority to provide Good quality education as per Norms.

Comments :

With the salary scales like as described above …… is it right to expect good quality and with pathetic Non-teaching grants and delays for 6-8 years can good quality be expected ?

Sec :   13

  • No interview or meeting with parents before admissions.
  • to be based on random draw or lottery method.
  • Applicable to all Govt & private schools.
  • Else penalty Rs. 25,000/- or more on the school
  • No fees or donations or any charges to be recovered. Else penalty

Comments :

While it is appreciated that the child should not interviewed at a tender age but surely any school ought to know the profile of the parents of the child. May be the child parents are terrorists or proclaimed offender or rioters or alcoholics or drug addicts or so. Once again this may not sound populist but is a fact. Frankly how many parents would prefer such a school having a composition of even some such parents ?? Once again while I do understand the rehab of such children but the proverb goes as one rotten apple can spoil a basket. I have not heard the proverb the other way. Why do we Indians shy away from hard truths at social or public platforms ?? Such a lottery system can be detrimental, though parental screening procedures also has its own negatives.

Sec :   15 Admissions till about 6 months from beginning of School. By that time 3/4th school time is over. How will child cope up ? Applicable for all schools. The Act also states that minimum workings Of any school will be 200 and if a child has to be admitted on the 180th Day ( fag end of 6 months ) then how will the child complete his Education ??

Comments :

Friends is it really so easy to say that schools have to admit children as late as Sept or may be even Dec and still complete the syllabus and more so expect the child to complete the syllabus ? Still the law prescribed the otherway.

Sec :   16 All students to be compulsorily promoted and no removal of any child from any school till Std. 8th.  Thus no incentive to study and even if child is a severe threat/nuisance to others or the teachers , that child cannot be removed. For all schools.

Comments :

This is the ultimate killer clause. If there is no fear of failure, then obviously there is no incentive of getting good marks, no desire to stand in the top 10 or may be 20 of the class, no zeal to learn honestly ( excluding a few dedicated ones ) , no evaluation and hence no needs of tests and exams. In fact then what for exams, when the child has to be compulsorily promoted. So also no rustication ( removal ) of the child for any reason whatsoever. This means that even the child abuses or assaults the teacher or outrages the modesty , still that child cannot be removed. While I appreciate that physical abuse of the child is wrong , still if in the good old days ( even till 1980 ) if the child was indeed even slapped or canned , it was with tears in the eyes of the teacher. That’s the attitude needed. But with such sections , I pity the pathetic thinking of the legislation makers in the corridors of power who do no understand the sacred institution called a school. Such a child who has not faced failures or study pressures till 8th Std, will suddenly face 9th Std exams and 10th Std board pressures and this can be catastrophic. A good fall out of this section is that coaching classes till Std 8th get eliminated. Leave aside that this section  is clearly violative of Article 29 & 30 of the Constitution, which gives power to religious or linguistic minorities to administer their institutions.

Sec :   17        All School will be penalized for mental harassment of child. Mental harassment not defined. Frankly to many students maths is virtually Mental harassment ??

Comments :

One more piece of insane legislation. Any child may henceforth drag or offend any teacher or school for mental harassment , the definition of which challenges all known mental frontiers.

Sec :   18/19 All old and new , aided or unaided schools ( But not Govt schools ) to be registered afresh after complying with  norms like teacher pupil ratio 35 : 1, separate classroom per teacher, Playground, all-weather school building, separate toilet , play material etc. Time 3 years If schools are not registered because of no playground or no separate toilets, or no play material etc, then close down and children shift to some other neighbourhood schools. Who pays money and when for all this, with State Govt cash strapped ??

Comments :

This in simple language means that the school once again requires registration and that means more corruption. For the moment let us go by the logic that India is corruption free country. Still going by the above section if a school has no playground or separate toilet for boys and girls , then the option for that school would be to buy or perhaps lease a playground and create toilets and/or make more classrooms etc. Hypothetically will it be a cakewalk for any school in south Mumbai to buy a playground ( may not be as big as cross maidan ) or how possible will it be to buy land and construct toilets in metropolitan cities, keeping in mind that no fees can be charged and the Govt will not pay and land is a luxury ?

Next many of the schools ( in the metros ) have a class strength of 60 or 90 or may be more. This has to come down to 35 or 40. That means more teachers and more classes , more space, more land and more finances and who bears all this is unknown.

Sec :   21

  • School will be managed by School management Committees [ SMC ]
  • Made of 75% parents ( mostly women must be there ) , 8% bycorporators , 8% educationists etc.
  • Term 2 years
  • SMC will look after working, grants, accounts, prepare school plan.
  • Applicable for Govt and aided schools and  Not for unaided schools

Comments :

Once again the legislators think that parents of a child can best administer the school. This sections means mothers ( and many of them illiterate at an all India level unfortunately ) will be effectively running the schools. Once again an impracticable suggestion. Further with corporators i.e political presence in the SMC, the side effects will automatically set in.

Sec :   11 State Govt will provide pre-school for children from 3 yrs to 6 yrs to prepare them for school.

Comments :

In its populist zeal to provide free education , the Govt’s have also made pre-school education i.e Junior or senior KG also free but in aided schools. Many child counsellors are in fact against the whole concept of pre-school teaching, it being a pressure on the child. Now here for the first time and in defiance the State supports pre-schools education.

Sec :   13,18 Huge penalties on schools whilst they are not allowed to charge anything like fees or under whatever name called from students. This is strange and contradictory …. How will the schools  pay the penalties ??

Comments :

Many penalties are placed on the schools. From where does the private aided schools get money to pay the penalty is not known since no fees or any collection of money from the child.

However the good points under the RTE Act are :

Sec :   3          The State & Central Govt shall concurrently arrange for funds.

Sec :   23         The Salaries & terms/conditions of teachers shall be such as may be prescribed.

It is important to note that like any other laws, No penalties are levied on any state Govt or local authority for any Non performance or delays, knowing that in education the slightest delay can cause loss of quality and a year for the child.

Now for some basic statistics :

  • Maharashtra has about 1 lac shikshan sewaks.
  • As per a Survey under Sarva Shikshan Abhiyan : ET Dt: 3-4-10 , there are 72,864 schools & 1.59 crore students from Std 1st to 8th in Maharashtra
  • During 07-08 Maharashtra State expenditure on primary and secondary education was Rs. 10,469 crs.There are about 320,000 or so students in the 265 English Medium Aided schools in the Maharashtra state
  • There are about 13,573 secondary & higher secondary schools out of which 9,286 are aided schools & 3,177 are unaided.
  • As per a 2008 CAG report for Maharashtra, although an amount of Rs. 10,818.44 crore has been collected under the employment guarantee fund (EGF) ( which funds the scheme through professional tax and other taxes collected from citizens ), only Rs 4,677.24 crore was spent on the EGS in the year under review.
  • The National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) has revealed that in 2003-04, most schools in India did not even have toilets for girls. Only about 3.5% schools in Bihar and Chhattisgarh had such toilet facilities. In Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, 12-16% primary schools had toilets for girls.  Drinking water was available in only 51% schools in Andhra Pradesh. In Karnataka, 33% primary schools didn’t have this facility. In Bihar and Jharkhand, nearly 20% children were enrolled in schools which did not have a blackboard!
    About 62% primary schools in Assam, 34% in Andhra Pradesh and 30% in Meghalaya had just one classroom.
  • The amount of financial assistance given to Educational institutions by the Maharashtra Govt in 07-08 was Rs. 6,859 crores, whereas the financial assistance given to OTHER INSTITUTIONS was Rs. 10,842 crores. The CAG says “ a significant proportion of financial assistance is being given to other institutions every year but the details of the same are not available….”. This news is shocking. Where is this money going ?
  • As on 31-3-2008 the Maharashtra Govt had invested Rs. 44,256 crores in Statutory corporation, rural banks, and Co-operatives and the return on these investments is much below 1% per year. This is colossal waste of Govt funds.

We are not here to speak of corruption or waste of Govt funds. This is the fact of life. But with such legislations and policies in education , a vicious cycle of self destruction is triggered and this may sound the death knell of such aided schools esp in cities like Mumbai, Pune and other big metropolis etc.

Friends , if you didnt know of this sordid state of affairs , now you know. If you think this is not a problem, then wait till it grows beyond repair or control. If you don’t have a school going child and hence this is not your problem , then wait till your relatives or near and dear ones complain or your grand children become of school age.  We live in a socially interconnected complex matrix known as a society and country at large. And we are not insulated or isolated.

Nobel Laureate Prof Amartya Sen once stated :

If you want to invest for a year invest in crops

If you want to invest for 10 years invest in trees

If you want to invest for 100 year invest in your children

Pls Reflect on the above.

CA Rajesh Sanghvi

Bandra(W), Mumbai

Mobile: 98210 12159

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