A move by the education department to ask parents of schoolchildren for their bank details has sparked a controversy, with many parents wary of sharing such personal information.
Parents were asked to provide their bank account numbers among other information by the state school education department for a new database of students.
However, the department cleared the air on it. It said that only students eligible for government grants and scholarships will have to give their parents’ bank details.
Many schools were not aware of this and had asked all students to fill in the information.
The information is being collected as part of Systematic Administrative Reforms for Achievement of Learning by students (SARAL), a database which will contain information on all schools, students and teachers to help track the quality of teaching.
Principal secretary of the school education department, Nand Kumar, said filling bank details is compulsory for those students availing scholarships or other government schemes. “We have asked for bank information so that we can directly transfer money to students’ accounts if they are eligible for government schemes such as pre-matric scholarships and others,” said Kumar. “Those who are not eligible for these schemes can skip it and provide the other information asked in the form.”
But, many parents complained that they had not been given a choice by schools. “My son came home last week from school with a form and asked me to fill it,” said a parent from a Juhu school, on condition of anonymity. “I was extremely cautious of sharing private information and did not want to fill it. But the school did not inform us that it was optional.”
School principals admitted that they were unaware that giving the bank details was not compulsory. “The education department told us that it is mandatory for everyone to give all the details,” said father Jude Fernandes, principal of St Mary’s School, SSC, Mazagaon. “The online form was also not moving forward without filling those fields.”
However, education inspector, BB Chavan said schools had been told beforehand through meetings on entering information in the database. “In the recent meetings, we told schools that the bank details were only for students availing government schemes,” said Chavan. “Also, if parents do not want to share the information now, they can do it whenever they want to avail of government schemes.”