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Mumbai’s night schools have few teachers and little funds, but students ace the board exams

Mumbai city news: Seven schools saw all students clearing the exams and scoring high

mumbai Updated: Jun 17, 2017 10:37 IST
Musab Qazi
(Picture for representation)

As schools around the city celebrated their students’ performance in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination, 130-odd night schools also had reason to cheer.

Seven of these schools saw all students — they work during the day and study at night — clearing the exams and scoring high.

Figures compiled by Masoom, a charity working with night schools, showed 3,085 students from night schools in Mumbai appeared for the SSC exams this year and 59% passed the examination. But it wasn’t an easy ride for the night schools or their students, who had to find time to attend the school after a busy day at work. These schools also face a severe shortage of resources, have few teachers and see students dropping out in the middle of the year.

According to BB Chavan, deputy director of education (Mumbai region), two night schools in the city had to shut down because of low enrolment.

READ: Pune’s sanitation worker clears SSC exam trashing all norms

An activist who did not want to be named said the changing demography of the city is responsible for low enrolment in some schools. “Night schools are concentrated in south Mumbai. But a majority of the slum population has shifted our of south Mumbai. But because to stringent government norms, it’s not easy for schools to shift,” he said.

Chandrakant Mhatre, the principal of the New Era Night High School in Chembur, said the state is undermining the role night schools play, to reduce how much it spends on them. “The state has drastically reduced teaching staff in night schools to balance teacher and student ratio. Many times, teachers and principals have to pay for the education of these students, as funds from the state don’t reach on time,” he said. Most of the night schools in the state are aided by the state government and the students are hardly charged anything for their education.

Last month, the state issued a government resolution (GR), prohibiting day-school teachers from teaching at night schools and instead, decided to employ surplus teachers for these schools.

The decision has not gone down well with many of 1,010 night school teachers in Mumbai who also teach during the day.

HOW THEY DID IT

Son, 10, helps blind woman take exams

Kiran Talwar, 31, is blind. She scored 79.60% in the SSC exams from the Maratha Mandir Night School, with help from her 10-year-old son. Kiran, a single mother, earns a living by selling food on the trains from Badlapur to Dadar. She said she lost vision in one eye after taking the wrong medicines for fever. “After I lost my eyesight, my in-laws started demanding dowry. I filed for divorce,” said Talwar who completed her SSC after a gap of 13 years. As I can’t read and write, my son read out the notes. I listened to recordings from Masoom. “I want to be a reporter.”

‘I wanted to score above 90%’

Preeti Moolya scored 91.80% in the SSC exams from the Gurunarayan night school in Santactuz.

As her father, who runs a sandwich stall, could not afford to send her to a regular school, she took admission at a night school. But she was determined to score high.

“I wanted to secure above 90%. I want to become an engineer,” said Preeti. “She was very focused student and would participate in all school activities. In spite of her the financial issues, she never lost focus on studies,” said Masoom, an NGO that helps night schools.

Failed Class 9, topped in Class 10

Aniket Vilas Udade scored 90.2% in the SSC exams. He studied in Sharda Night school in Vikhroli. But the success didn’t come easy.

Aniket had failed Class 9. He then started working as a newspaper distributor. In that year, he realised the importance of education, he said. He joined a night school and worked after school hours.

“I had aimed to come first in our school so I would get the scholarship,” Aniket said. he wants to be an aeronautical engineer. “Nobody in our house is educated to afford a good living. I want to support my family.”

(With inputs from Bhakti Makwana)