Deschooling Delhi: Fate sealed?
Lakhs of students face an uncertain future as their schools try to stay out of sealing blacklist.Updated: Oct 15, 2006 19:32 IST
Following the Supreme Court's directions to the MCD to seal all commercial establishments operating from residential areas, the future of 1,920 primary and secondary schools and their 8 lakh students and also teachers is hanging in the balance.
According to RC Jain, president, Delhi State Public School Management Association, these schools were recognised by the government. "They operate under a Parliament Act passed in 1973 and they're all affiliated to the CBSE," he said.
After the public notice for sealing came in, the association filed a petition to a host of politicians, ranging from Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to Delhi education minister Arvinder Singh Lovely. "We've demanded that the schools be included in the amended Master Plan," said R.C. Jain.
But as things stand, the MCD's sealing drive is about to reach the doors of these schools -- from September 16 onwards.
Such a prospect is dreaded by the school managements, parents, teachers and students. Among the 1,920 schools, around 220 are on plotted residential colonies and 1,700 in unauthorised-regularised colonies.
O.P. Jain, director of Vanasthali Public School, Patparganj, said if sealed, the schools would not be able to arrange any alternative for the children. "We've around 2,000 students," he said. "How're we going to provide an alternative to them?"
S.D. Jain, director, Delhi International Happy School, Ashram, said: "There was no MCD when my school was set up. We've not been creating any nuisance in the neighborhood; we've just been educating children."
As per the CBSE curriculum, these schools started their academic session in April. Teachers worry about the schools being shut for even a couple of months.
"There is no way the students can make up for lost time if they're to sit for the final exam next year," said Vibha Khanna, an English teacher at Florence Public School, Mayur Vihar.
The teachers too stand to lose.
"Since these are private schools, they won't be able to pay salary to their teachers once they're shut down,' said R.C. Jain. "It will render the teachers jobless."
The nodal association of the schools has decided to go on a citywide strike on September 7 if Master Plan 2001 is not altered to accommodate them. Responding to its petition, Lovely has forwarded a request to the DDA to include "old schools" in the upcoming Master Plan.
"These schools are operating from congested areas like the Walled City, where no DDA land was available for building schools as per specifications," he said. "So, the older set of schools can't just be shut down."
Meanwhile, the MCD said it would only be targeting pre-primary schools in the ongoing sealing drive. Illegal primary and secondary schools would be taken up from September 16.