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The alarming state of BMC’s Marathi medium schools in Mumbai.

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Shashwat Mishra, Mumbai Uncensored.

BMC’s Marathi Medium Schools currently are facing an existential crisis in the city of Mumbai. The following conclusion has been highlighted by Praja Foundation in its White Paper released in December 2016, which has pointed out that the number of students in Marathi Medium Schools has declined from 1,16,086 in 2011-2012 to 71,454 in 2015-16. If we talk about the decline in a total number of enrolments in Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, (MCGM) schools then it has decreased by 31% from 2014-15 to 2018-19. What is interesting to note here is that while the enrolments in Marathi medium schools are declining, there is a significant increase in the enrolment rate in other private schools which is about 182%, from 2014-15 to 2018-19.

According to the teachers, management and other public-spirited citizens who are fighting for Marathi medium education have alleged that these schools are in such a poor condition owing to the government’s discriminatory policies. Another opinion raised by such individuals is that due to the current perception of these municipal schools and parents’ attraction towards English medium schools the enrolments are declining. However, the major point here is the lack of government policies to revive and revamp such municipal schools.

Aam Aadmi Party’s Mumbai working President Mr. Ruben Mascarenhas has provided his detailed insight into the current state of municipal schools and BMC’s management, he has also provided solutions which can be implemented to improve the current situation, he says, “Shiv Sena-led BMC is singlehandedly responsible for the dismal state of education in Mumbai in general, and schools in particular. In an AAP governed state like Delhi, we’ve allocated 26% of INR 69,000 Crores of our budget to education, as compared to a mere 7.5% of 39,000 crores by the BMC in Mumbai; this is lesser when compared in both, absolute and percentage terms. BMC schools, in general, remain in a state of neglect – due to suboptimal infrastructure, no investment towards teacher training, no effort towards improving the learning outcomes of students, or measuring them. For example, playgrounds, libraries, and computer labs are missing in schools. BMC schools are shutting down and its prime real estate is being repurposed for other uses. As per Praja, there will be no students studying at BMC schools by 2028.

What is clearly evident in the last 30 years of the Shiv Sena’s misrule in the BMC, is its poor standards of governance, and misplaced priorities. To begin with, it simply doesn’t have the will to think status quo and work towards better public service delivery when it comes to education, simply because of deeply entrenched interests – which are a fountainhead of both, wholesale and retail corruption. Merely rebranding schools and building a few highly affiliated schools here and there is a band-aid approach towards solving the larger disease of a systematic failure of education under the BMC.

The situation requires solutions on multiple fronts, and some of the said solutions are as follows:

1. The immediate up-gradation of primary and secondary infrastructure of schools,

2. Attempts towards increasing enrolments in BMC schools using creative teaching and learning programs and incentives

3. Teacher training programs, and introduction of estate managers to reduce administrative duties of the teaching staff

4. Execution of programs towards improved learning outcomes for children and their measurement, so as to ensure quality education.”

After the introduction of the Right to Education Act, 2009, it has been mandated that schools cannot run without the approval of the concerned department. One of the owners of Marathi medium schools pointed out that. “With no aid or approval from the government, the schools don’t have the means to continue running,” said the owner of a Marathi medium school. He added, “Teachers and principals are spending money from their own pockets to keep some of them afloat.”

On the contrary, English medium schools get speedy approval as pointed out by Girish Samant, a trustee of the AB Goregaonkar School, a Marathi medium school. He further pointed out, “The education department has now completely stopped grant approval to new Marathi medium schools. Some of these schools have been vying for permissions since 2012. Both BMC and the state government are on a campaign to save money. They seem to be least bothered about Marathi medium schools shutting down. Since the past decade, they have made things difficult for the management and staff of Marathi medium schools”. This issue is also important as the current government with Shiv Sena at the helm is known for its “Marathi Manus” image and has been forever campaigning on this issue, pointed out by Sunil Shejule, co-ordinator of Marathi Shala Sansthachalak Sangh.

Mrs. Rakhee Sunil (Social Worker), points out that, “the number of Marathi schools have drastically reduced and even more alarming is the rate of students who have shifted from Marathi medium to English medium. One of the main reasons for this is the inclination of parents towards English medium schools. They want their children to study in English medium schools, as they feel that the job opportunities will be more if they study in English medium. Also, the infrastructure and education in many Marathi schools need a lot of upgradation. Trusts which are also running schools feel that English medium will flourish more than Marathi medium schools. As a social worker I work with schools, I have seen many Marathi medium schools being shut down due to a lack of students.  New admissions are very negligible and hence it is not feasible to continue. Rigid Governmental rules are also partially responsible for the same.”

Amidst all of this, the stats and numbers surely suggest that Marathi medium schools are in dire need of a revival, in the past decade 133 Marathi medium schools have shut down, furthermore, between 2010-11 to 2019-2020, the number of students in Marathi medium schools has declined by 67,033. The reports suggest a gloomy situation, and prompt action by the government is what may be the right step in this direction.

Corona

Supreme Court directs UGC To Finalise Guidelines For Inspection of Educational Institutions To Ensure Implementation of RPWD Act

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Bhuvana Iyer, Mumbai Uncensored, 13th January 2022 :

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the University Grants Commission to ensure that guidelines for the ease of access to students with disabilities in universities and colleges across the country are formulated in eight weeks.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and A S Bopanna noted the submission of the UGC’s counsel that a committee has been constituted following a direction of the court. It would look into formulation of guidelines for accessibility of students with disabilities in universities and colleges. The Bench was hearing a Miscellaneous Application arising out of the Apex Court’s judgement dated 15.12.2017 – in Disabled Rights Group & Another v Union of India wherein the Court had accepted the suggestions by the petitioner that educational institutions must ensure proper infrastructure in including special classrooms, sports facilities, libraries, laboratories, teaching methods, recreational facilities etc.

Advocate Manoj Ranjan Sinha, appearing for the UGC, said at the outset that an updated status report has been filed and it would take another eight weeks to frame the guidelines given the current Covid situation. The bench then posted the matter for further hearing on March 14. In 2017, the top court had said that for “Guidelines for Accessibility for Students with Disabilities in Universities/Colleges”, the UGC shall consider the feasibility of constituting a committee.

It added that the committee shall also lay down the time limit within which such suggestions could be implemented. The expert committee may also consider the feasibility of constituting an in-house body in each educational institution (of teachers, staff, students and parents) for taking care of the day to day needs of differently abled persons as well as for implementation of the schemes devised by it.

Requesting UGC “to be proactive”, the Court directed UGC to ensure that guidelines are finalised before the next date of hearing. The Court further directed that a status report on the inspections made and the guidelines be made available to all stakeholders and uploaded on the website of the UGC.

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Education

NM COLLEGE to conduct exams amidst the current spike in covid cases, students protest.

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Amidst the current spike of covid cases, Mumbai logged 10,086 fresh cases on Tuesday, NM college is adamant in conducting exams in the physical mode for Postgraduate students from the 10th of January, 2022. The entire course was conducted seamlessly in the online mode but now suddenly the college wants to conduct the exams in the physical mode. Students are in a very troublesome situation as a good number of students are outstation students i.e. from other states and their parents are scared to send their children for the offline exams considering the current situation of covid in the City of Mumbai. The students tried to communicate the same to the relevant authorities but got no assurance.

Students are facing a situation of uncertainty as the current spike seems to not end soon and if the Maharashtra Government imposes a lockdown during the period of their examination then the students who come from outstations would be stuck in the city due to the restrictions. Mr. Siddhant Mohite, founder & editor-in-Chief of Mumbai Uncensored received several messages from the students who were communicating their plight of the said decision to hold a physical examination. Mumbai Uncensored stands in full support of the students and opposes the said decision to hold physical examinations for the PG students.

“We have written a letter to Mr. Uday Samant, Minister for Higher and Technical Education, regarding the offline examination issues, and we have demanded online examinations for the safety of students. NM & Mithibai College is run by SVKM. On 4th January, SVKM’s Mithibai College conducted a physical exam. We have received hundreds of messages saying ‘several students have fallen sick after attending the examination, parents and faculty have also been tested positive’. After hearing the health problems of Mithibai Students, now NM College students, parents, and faculties have started messaging us requesting help regarding raising voice demanding online exams”, said Siddhant Mohite, Founder & Editor in Chief of Mumbai Uncensored.

Mr. Uday Samant, Higher and Technical Education Minister of Maharashtra tweeted “A meeting was held on 4th Jan with all the Divisional Commissioners, all the District Collectors, and all the Vice-Chancellors regarding the covid situation of all districts of the state. A decision regarding the safety of students, staff and parents will be taken on 5th Jan 2022 at 4 pm.”

Being a responsible media organization, Mumbai Uncensored has promised its readers to voice their demands till they get justice.

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Education

Students protest as Mithibai College announces to hold PG exams offline.

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Shashwat Mishra & Anushka Pathak, Mumbai Uncensored, 3rd January 2021:

Amidst the growing cases of COVID in Mumbai, Mithibai College of Vile Parle has announced that PG exams will be held offline between January 4th to January 13th. This has led to protests by the students raising concern over their health. The decision came out in October but as the number of cases were less, the students had no objection. Since December, Mumbai has seen a rise in the COVID cases which led to protests by the students of Mithibai College. Meanwhile, the exams for Under Graduate students are being held online.

One of the PG students from Mithibai remarked, “We are requesting the college authorities to conduct online exams in light of their students’ well-being. With the rising threat to not just us students but also the threat our families will be exposed to due to continuous contact with us while we are traveling to give the exams via public transport.” One of the students communicated, “We also conducted an online meeting with the principal regarding this concern. Our classmate’s family has been tested positive already.”

Students have written a letter to the Editor-in-Chief of Mumbai Uncensored, Mr. Siddhant Mohite, for voicing the demands of the students. Mumbai Uncensored extends full support to students as, during these testing times when Mumbai is clocking close to 12,000 covid cases, the decision to hold exams completely overlooks the current situation and the demands of the students. “If the college does not cancel or postpone the exams, Mumbai Uncensored will take this issue up with the Education Ministry of the Maharashtra Government.”, said Siddhant Mohite.

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