The much-awaited report on the school attendance census was tabled in the state cabinet on Wednesday. With the findings showing a high percentage of bogus students in schools and colleges, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said a high-powered committee will be formed to decide on action to be taken against educational institutions.
The committee, education minister Rajendra Darda said, will analyse the school data and fix the number of students, decide absentee numbers and excess teachers and finally they will decide what action will be taken against defaulting institutes.
Action will be taken against errant school managements that are accused of siphoning off funds in the name of fake students and that might include a huge penalty.
The Maharashtra education department had conducted an ambitious statewide video census across 1 lakh schools and junior colleges in the state. According to education department sources, around 21 lakh students were found absent on the day the census was conducted. This is roughly 10% of the 2 crore students studying in 1 lakh schools and junior colleges in the state.
Although there is the possibility that some of these students were indeed absent, a majority of these are estimated to be bogus, i.e. only proxy names.
"The information was shared with us and we have decided to form a high-powered committee under the chairmanship of the chief secretary which will tell us what action can be taken. A two-month timeframe has been set for this," Chavan said.
In Mumbai alone the census showed that 18% of the students in BMC schools in the island city and 16% in the suburbs were absent. The worse performing district is Nanded with 18% absenteeism.
The survey conducted in October was done to check the number of bogus students on the rolls in state-aided schools, allegedly shown to swindle funds coming in for each student through central and state government schemes.
Sources say the report has pointed out that funds of more than Rs 2,500 crore are probably being misappropriated as there are an estimated 21 lakh fake students. This is roughly 10% of the Rs 27,000 crore budget set aside for the school education department annually.