Exasperated by the indiscriminate fee hikes at private schools, parents from Kharghar have decided to not send their kids to schools for two days — Monday and Tuesday.
The first day of protest saw a mixed response as the 18 schools, which have been targeted, reported a drop in attendance. On an average, the attendance varied from 30-50 per cent.
The parents’ main demand is introduction of an education act, which will allow the government to regulate fee hikes and curb indiscriminate hikes.
At the protest on Monday, police arrested 44 people — 28 men and 16 women — including local MLA Prashant Thakur. Some parents went to various schools and demanded that they shut down and some even tried to stop school buses. All those arrested were later released on bail. “They should have taken prior permission from us for protesting on the roads. Some of them were trying to stop vehicles and to keep the situation under control we arrested them,” said Kiran Patil, senior police inspector, Kharghar police station.
The parents, however, had a different story to tell. “We had initiated a peaceful protest. The police were shown old clips of protests and they arrested some of us,” said a parent.
“Through this strike, we want to see parents standing up against schools, who have turned education into a business,” said Sadhna Pawar, mother of a Class II student.
According to Thakur, some schools have even threatened students of dire consequences if they didn’t come to school on Monday and Tuesday. “I don’t have any remorse for getting arrested for a noble cause like this. We were arrested although we protested peacefully. But, it should be kept in mind that it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning,” said Thakur.
Dr Narendra Kadam, an educationist from Kharghar, said, “Our protest is to tell the government to introduce an Education Act for keeping such issues under control.
If the governments of Delhi, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu can have such acts, why can’t the Maharashtra government have one?” said Kadam.