The Municipal Corp-oration has made student welfare a priority this budget. They have earmarked Rs 1,600 crore for the upgrade of their 1,400 schools.
From portable classrooms to vacuum cleaners, filter water and housekeeping staff, municipal schools will hopefully look different by the end of the year.
“We have a larger budget this year. Last year, Rs 1,360 crore was allotted for education,” said Chan-drashekar Rokde, deputy municipal commissioner, education.
“We are planning all infrastructure repairs and changes in the upcoming summer vacation so when the students come back for the next academic year, the schools will be ready.”
BMC schools cater to about 5 lakh students every year. The major highlights of the budget were new guidelines for housekeeping.
It will include 800 more sweepers, vacuum cleaners, scrubbers, security guards, plumbers and electricians with a budget of Rs 4 crore a year.
“Schools have been divided into safe, unsafe and very unsafe categories and accordingly security guards will be distributed,” added Rokde.
The BMC is also taking forward the language labs and labs that were proposed last year. Rs 1 crore has been allotted for labs in 49 schools and Rs 10 crore for computer labs in 100 schools.
By next year, almost all schools will have computer labs.
“The computer labs didn’t take off too well last year because there was no dedicated staff to maintain it. This time there is a teacher and peon for the computer lab,” added Rodke. But while all these plans sound rosy, educators who have been in BMC schools are not too sure.
“My first question is where and how was all of year’s budget spent?” said Ramesh Joshi, president of the BMC teachers union. “Also, instead on taking on additional responsibility of junior colleges, the BMC should improve primary schools, which was their original focus area. Ensure that these function properly before trying other things.”