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Out of tune

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to buy 2,885 musical instruments at a total cost of Rs 68.5 lakh — but it doesn’t have any music teachers at most its 1,200 schools, reports Sayli Udas Mankikar.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2009 14:15 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar

Talk about money down the drain.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to buy 2,885 musical instruments at a total cost of Rs 68.5 lakh — but it doesn’t have any music teachers at most its 1,200 schools.

Worse still, many of these schools are crumbling and short-staffed.

Of the 1,200 civic schools in Mumbai, only 240 have music teachers.

Yet the BMC is going shopping for 64 saxophones, 128 shehnais, 511 harmoniums, 768 flutes, 384 trumpets, 128 marching drums, 64 tambourines, 64 trainer drums and 64 dhols, among other instruments.

The proposal, to come up before the Standing Committee on Wednesday, says the instruments are needed for “overall personality and social development” of the civic students, most of whom are underprivileged children of lower middle-class parents.

With no dedicated space for storage and no maintenance plan, the instruments might end up meeting the fate of the previous lot, which was eaten up

by white ants about 10 years ago.

“This is clearly putting the cart before the horse. We do not have basic infrastructure to house these instruments and the number of music teachers, currently 145, is far too low to teach the 4.5 lakh students in these schools,” said Ramesh Joshi of the BMC teachers’ union.

The position of Art and Music Academy principal for the BMC schools — the person occupying this post heads the team of teachers and decides the music curriculum — has been lying vacant for 10 years.

“This section has been neglected and must be fixed in a systematic way,” said Joshi. “There should be a head who will align the system, get proper infrastructure to store instruments. Only then should they go ahead and place such a huge order.”

The administration doesn’t agree, and feels they can ‘manage’.

“All students are not interested in music, so we will be able to manage with the available number of teachers. Also the proposal has been floated so that we can form a kind of chorus group,” said Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Education) Chandrashekhar Rokade.