A section of parents of students at a civic school in Goregaon are worried it will shut down soon because of competition from a private school operating in the same building, depriving their children of free education.
Sudarshan English School has been operating from the premises of the civic school in Bimbisar Nagar, since 2004. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has rented out four rooms to the private school under a scheme which allows the civic body to share school space with NGOs and non-profit trusts. The scheme is under review since 2007, and no fresh leases have been made for the last four years.
Parents complain that the private school, which is run by Sudarshan Ramkisun Shikshan Sanstha and charges a monthly fee of Rs350, has been poaching students of the civic school. A BMC official, who requested anonymity, said that 22 students had left in the past two months to join the private school.
Authorities from the private school deny the allegation. “Whoever has come to our school has of their free will,” said Chintamani Pandey, trustee of the school. “I have even offered students free education. We see them suffering in the municipal school with barely any teachers, so we only want to help them.”
But social activists disagree. “The private school has taken over the building and does not want the BMC school to run,” said Shyam Sonar, an activist with non-profit group Samaan Shikshan Mulbhoot Adhikar Samiti.
Vasudha Mhatkar, administrative officer of P-South ward, said no complaints have been received from parents and the civic school won’t be shutting down.
BMC's education officer Mirza Baig said he had not heard about the issue. “I will have to check,” he said. On the status of the revised policy on letting out school space to other organisations, Baig said, “It is being finalised.”