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Dombivli to Azad Maidan: retired teacher marches to save budget schools

In 2013, the state education department formed a new rule that said only schools built within one acre of land in cities and two acres in rural areas will get recognition

mumbai Updated:
Ankita Menon
Ankita Menon
Hindustan Times
Dombivli,Thane,Azad Maidan
KS Iyer at Teen Haath Naka Thane on Wednesday. (Praful Gangurde/HT)

Miffed by the government’s new laws favouring schools with a higher fee structure over budget schools, educationist Krishnamurthy Shiva Iyer, emulating the farmers’ protest in March, embarked on a padayatra from his home in Dombivli towards Azad Maidan on June 18. He reached Teen Haath Naka in Thane on Wednesday and met MLA Subhash Bhoir to discuss the issue.

In 2013, the state education department formed a new rule that said only schools built within one acre of land in cities and two acres in rural areas will get recognition. However, as this decision was taken after a gap of three years and hence many schools that opened up between 2010 and 2013 have not been granted official recognition.

Iyer, 56, used to teach economics at Model College in Dombivli. His vision to introduce budget schools that provide better education to students was selected among the country’s best innovative ideas by a leading financial publication.

“They also were keen on helping me set up these budget schools but 10 years ago I was not prepared for it. Later I mulled over the proposal and decided to start a school. As of now two schools I have opened in Diva are functioning. But my third school that started in 2010 has not been recognised yet due to the sudden change in laws,” said Iyer.

This decision has not just affected Iyer but many others like him. “Any school that has a one-acre property will definitely charge higher fees as it requires an investment of Rs1.5 crore. The authorities prefer to help schools that have a higher fee structure and not budget schools like mine that cater to all the sections of the society. Budget schools are made available in neighbourhoods so that more students can join and save time and money on transport. Children can get more time to play and study, parents are also keen on sending them to schools that are budget-friendly,” said Iyer.

Diva has numerous unrecognised schools — Iyer’s Rainbow School at Mumbra Devi Colony Road being one of them. Despite writing numerous letters to authorities on the matter, he got no response. Therefore, he decided to set out on a march to Azad Maidan. He plans to reach his destination by Friday and meet with lawmakers at Mantralaya.

“I am keen on meeting Vinod Tawde and requesting him to take a stand on this issue. There are around 186 schools within Thane whose recognition was rejected due to the new rule. It is alarming to see the number of students that will be affected by this rule,” said Iyer

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