Edu dept trashes thousands of letters opposing ‘school adoption’ scheme | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Edu dept trashes thousands of letters opposing ‘school adoption’ scheme

Apr 09, 2024 09:12 AM IST

To convey their concern to the government, a public movement to send postcards to the chief minister was launched by activists

MUMBAI: On Monday, the fifth floor of Mantralaya witnessed an unusual sight: thousands of postcards junked outside school education minister Deepak Kesarkar’s office. The postcards had been sent by parents, teachers and students opposing the state’s school adoption scheme, wherein private parties would be allowed to ‘adopt’ and take over the reins of government schools. But the minister’s office, far from taking cognisance, had thrown the letters out.

Edu dept trashes thousands of letters opposing ‘school adoption’ scheme
Edu dept trashes thousands of letters opposing ‘school adoption’ scheme

The scheme, which was announced in September 2023, envisaged a model under which individuals, corporations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) could adopt government schools. The initiative was taken up with a view to upgrading the infrastructure and amenities at these schools and improving the quality of education. As per the government resolution (GR), donors can choose between two tenures—five years or ten years—to take over the school and provide items and services required for its functioning.

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The GR was met with stiff opposition by students, teachers and parents. To convey their concern to the government, a public movement to send postcards to the chief minister was launched by activists, and lakhs of letters were sent to Mantralaya.

“It is disappointing that the government is not serious about the feelings of stakeholders,” said Heramb Kulkarni, an education activist. “Students, teachers and parents have written letters to the state government in a constitutional manner but without taking cognisance of these, the government has thrown them out of the office. This is unacceptable, and an inquiry must be held into this.”

The letters stated that education could be impacted on account of the scheme and requested the government to take back its decision. “Providing infrastructure is a fundamental responsibility of the government,” said Mahendra Ganpule, spokesperson of the Maharashtra Principals’ Association. “Instead of doing this, it is inviting private parties to get involved in the management of schools. Lakhs of students, parents and teachers across the state have raised concerns and requested the government to recall its decision. By discarding their letters, government officials have disrespected the emotions of the stakeholders.”

According to officials, letters must be preserved for at least a year in the office and then disposed of as per government rules. When HT contacted the education department and brought the incident to their notice, an official said, “When we learnt about the letters thrown outside the office, we collected them and kept them back in the office.”

As per the GR, around 62,000 government schools cater to around 50 lakh students across the state. The GR states that in areas governed by municipal corporations, companies will have to provide a minimum one-time amount of 2 crore for five years and 3 crore for ten years. For municipal councils, the amount is a minimum of 5 crore.

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