Primary schools run by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) are shrinking in size, and it has nothing to do with the number of students.
According to the Masterplan of Delhi 2021 (MPD), the classrooms are supposed to measure 20x22 feet to accommodate 20 desks, but sources say they are actually being constructed much smaller in size.
Sources revealed that this trend had been found in about 50 MCD schools leading to a loss of R7.5 crore to the civic agency. Those involved in the construction of these rooms are pocketing R15 lakh per school, on an average.
The issue came to light last month in a meeting held to discuss the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE). Teachers here expressed concern on classrooms not being big enough to accommodate the increased load of students.
"We were told in the meeting that the number of students in each class would go up by 40, which meant that we would need to accommodate 20 more desks in the classrooms. We, however, told officials that the rooms in our schools were not even big enough to accommodate 20 desks," said a senior MCD official.
""One classroom is constructed at a cost of approximately R4.5 lakh. By reducing the size those involved in the construction must be making at least one lakh a room," the official added.
A survey was conducted and it was found that several school had classrooms smaller than the stipulated norm. This included the MCD school in Harsh Vihar, which had a classroom measuring 16x19 feet, and the one in north Delhi’s Karawal Nagar with classrooms measuring 17x20 feet. MCD’s education department sent a complaint to MCD commissioner KS Mehra, who has set up an enquiry into the matter.
The education department said other schools facing similar problems needed to be identified. "We need to carry out a survey of all our schools, especially those that are newly constructed or are in the process of being constructed," Mahender Nagpal, chairman of MCD’s education committee said, adding, "The number of students is set to increase. If classrooms are small, it will be tough to accommodate all of them."