Civic school students from Class 1 to 10 have been asked to compulsorily collect funds for the welfare of the armed forces. Though the authorities have denied the claims, the move has outraged activists from the field.
Two weeks ago, the students were given appeal forms -- issued by the collector Chandrashekhar Oak -- asking them to raise funds. In Bandra's civic schools, the students have been asked to collect donations from wherever they can. Though door-to-door campaigning hasn't been recommended for students from Kurla, they have been asked to cough up the amount themselves.
Most of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) schools are for the primary section. A civic schoolteacher, requesting anonymity, said: "It is an unwritten rule that every student has to contribute towards this fund. We feel sad that our students, who come from very poor families, are asked to go door-to-door to collect money. In our school, we have donated the money ourselves and made fake entries to ensure that our students don't go through the hassle."
Oak said that collecting funds is the responsibility of the civic body. "Every year, we write to the education department to collect funds for the noble cause. We haven't insisted on sending students to collect money. I will check if this is indeed the case."
Denying the allegation, Mirza Beg, BMC's education officer, said: "We have never asked our students to donate or collect funds. The teachers are supposed to do that. Sometimes, enthusiastic students volunteer to help."
Activists, working for schools, however, are outraged. Hasim Shaikh, a Bandra-based activist, said, "Asking students to donate or collect funds is not correct. Scared of the consequences if they fail to comply with the order, they often plead and beg for donations."
"Why should schoolchildren beg for funds for a cause which is not even remotely connected to their well-being, especially when they themselves live in pitiable conditions?" asked Aftab Siddiqui, activist, Mumbai for Child Rights (M4CR), an organisation working with civic schools.