Though the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is spending crores on education, its number of schools and teachers are dropping.
Information obtained through a Right To Information (RTI) query, filed by activist Chetan Kothari, has revealed that in the past three years, the number of vacancies for BMC teachers has been rising steadily. At the same time, more number of civic schools are also merging and/or shutting down.
This despite the BMC having a budgetary provision and spending more than Rs 1,400 crore on education.
The highest number of schools — 30 — shut or merged in 2009-10, compared to figures in the past three years. Twenty schools had merged or shut in 2007-08 and another 18 in 2008-09. Marathi primary schools have suffered the most, with a total of 27 schools closing down or getting merged in the past three years.
“There has been a constant dip in the number of students getting enrolled in civic schools, especially in Marathi schools. So the number of Marathi schools is going down because of lack of students,” said Arvind Hire, deputy municipal commissioner (education).
Figures obtained show that there were 840 vacant posts for teachers in primary civic schools by the end of 2009. That’s a steady rise from 676 vacancies in 2007 and 720 in 2008. These figures exclude the number of vacancies in Marathi schools.
Last year, the Human Development Index report had praised civic schools for having a ratio of 30 students to 1 teacher, which was in stark contrast to the figure in private, unaided schools, which had a ratio of 46 students to 1 teacher. This ratio now seems to be in the danger of slipping.
“The problem is that we have hundreds of surplus teachers in Marathi and Gujarati schools whereas we face a serious deficit in teachers in Urdu and Telugu schools, where it’s difficult to find qualified teachers,” said Hire. The BMC has stepped up its recruitment drive and that show results soon, Hire added.