On the first day of the Maharashtrian new year, six members of a group of unaided Marathi-medium schools began an indefinite hunger strike, protesting against the state’s decision to not grant permission to run unaided schools in the state.
Around 100 students, teachers and school authorities gathered at Azad Maidan on Monday to support the hunger strike.
Since 2008, the government has not granted permission to any new primary or secondary private Marathi-medium school, and has threatened action against the 5,000-odd schools operating in the state.
“On the first day of the new year, we hope to highlight the issue Marathi schools are facing,” said Arun Thakur, coordinator of Shikshan Hakka Samanvaya Samiti, a consortium of unaided schools. “We will continue to fight until the government gives in to our demands,” he added.
The Samiti has made four demands. They want the government to allow schools opened in 2008 to continue running. They seek permissions for new unaided schools and want punishments against unaided Marathi-medium schools to be repealed. Lastly, they want unaided schools to be included in the government’s masterplan of school mapping. “The government’s masterplan only includes aided schools,” said Thakur. “Why invite proposals to start new schools when there already are schools in those areas?”
The Bombay high court had set March 31 as the deadline for the government to inspect some 7,000-odd proposals submitted in 2008 and to take a decision on them. It is yet do so, say school authorities.