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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Civic body’s high spending on students yields no results

Mugdha Variyar, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, December 19, 2012
First Published: 01:56 IST(19/12/2012) | Last Updated: 01:57 IST(19/12/2012)

The state of affairs in civic schools in the city is dismal despite the huge expenditure incurred on each student, according to a white paper released by Praja Foundation, a non-governmental organisation on Tuesday.

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According to information accessed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, though the civic body spends more than Rs50,000 per student annually, the pass percentage in Class 10 board exams was 61% this year as compared to 83% in private unaided schools where fees range from Rs15,000 to Rs36,000.

Also, of the 100 students who received middle school scholarships this year, only nine were from civic schools.

“There is clear misuse of taxpayers’ money which is only benefiting the staff at schools and not the students,” said Nitai Mehta, managing trustee, Praja Foundation.

The paper looked at several parameters such as inspection reports of teachers, pass percentages and dropout rates, as well as aspirations of parents whose children go to civic schools. (see box)

However, civic authorities claimed that quality of education in civic schools was up to the mark.

“The teachers are qualified and there is quality environment in our schools,” said Ravindra Bhise, BMC education officer. “We have started a School Excellence Programme (SEP) in 148 schools across the city to promote activity-based education and improve the quality.”

Balasaheb Mane, education inspector, south zone, said that it was not the environment in the schools that was to be blamed.

“It is usually the home environment and the family background that affects how a student performs. The teachers in civic schools are better qualified compared to those from private schools, and are selected after entrance tests and interviews,” said Mane.

Dr Ramesh Chaturvedi, who heads the community science department at Sion hospital, had studied in a civic school in Goregaon, and said that commercialisation was to be blamed for the current state of affairs in municipal schools. “Today, teachers are more keen on making money through coaching classes because of which the school environment has been diluted,” he said.

The report also revealed that many families whose children go to municipal schools would prefer sending them to private schools.

“We want our children to get the best environment and become competitive so that they can do well in the future and private schools provide such an environment,” said Ahmed Shaikh, an autodriver from Goregaon, who admitted his son to a private school under the Right to Education Act this year.

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