The state’s school education department has informed parents of Islamic International School, Mazgaon, which is run by Dr Zakir Naik, who is under investigation, and that it will be shut down as it is being run illegally. The department has given parents two options-a new management will take over or students will shifted to other schools.
As of now, there are 160 students on its rolls from nursery to Class 10. Vinod Tawde, education minister said that the school doesn’t have the necessary permits – a no-objection certificate and registration – to run in Maharashtra. “The school is illegal, it doesn’t even have any affiliation from Maharashtra state or any other board,” said Tawde.
On Monday morning, a couple of officials held an impromptu meeting with the school parents. “Our officials told the parents the facts. Zakir Naik didn’t take any permission from the department before starting the school,” said Tawde.
Tawde said that parents will have to choose one of the two options presented to them. He said that they will try to get an institute like Anjuman-i-Islam to take over the management of the school and if that doesn’t happen students will be shifted to age-appropriate classrooms in other schools under the Right to Education quota. “The parents were opposed to moving students to other schools. But if we don’t find a new management for the school, we will have to do that,” said Tawde.
But school authorities said that they will continue to run the school unless they get a written notice from the department. “You can’t just communicate such an important decision orally. This is clearly being done to spread panic among parents,” said a legal assistant to the school.
Parents are not keen on changing schools. “Right now exams are going on. We can’t just find another school in the middle of the academic year,” said Adil Patanwala, whose two daughters are studying in nursery and Class 8.
He added that the quality of education in the school will get affected under a different management. “This is the only school that offers international education along with quran lessons,” said Patanwala.
The school offers the Cambridge International curriculum but it is not affiliated to the board. Students appear for Class 10 exams as private candidates from other schools.
Last week, a group of parents had met Tawde, who had assured them that the school won’t be shut down in the middle of the academic year. Before that, the NIA put a freeze on the school’s bank accounts.