The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had budgeted Rs 8 crore for procuring benches for schools in 2009. Two years on, students at most MCD schools continue to sit on the floor. An MCD school at Shahdara is one such school. Twenty years after it was built, kids are yet to sit on a bench.
In some cases, MCD has built porta cabins for students who earlier had to sit in tents. However, the cabins are so crammed that children feel suffocated. “We have 281 students in our school and only four porta cabins. Some students even have to sit outside the cabins,” said R P Pal, principal, Mustafabad MCD school. A group of such students recently sent 140 postcards to the chief justice of Delhi high court, highlighting their plight.
Justices Dipak Misra and Manmohan have converted these postcards into a public interest litigation and the case came up for hearing earlier this month. The court had summoned education committee director Prem Lata after photographs, depicting the dismal state of these schools, were submitted before it as evidence. Delhi HC counsel Ashok Aggarwal inspected three such schools along with MCD commissioner K S Mehra and both were shocked to find the sorry state of the schools. “Right now, almost 10 lakh children don’t go to schools and if tomorrow they turn up, there is no space for them. MCD officials keep themselves busy in making policies and plans for students that never take off. ,” said Aggarwal.
MCD is to provide 70,000 benches to its schools. But only 12,000 benches were bought in 2009. “These benches are inspected by the Shri Ram laboratory. It checks the durability of the wood used to make these benches and only after its green signal, we can purchase them. But the lab has put an objection,” said Mahindra Nagpal, the chairman of the education committee.
Only one question - what happened to the unspent money?
The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has issued a circular to all schools in the city to furnish details of admissions in the 2011-2012 academic sessions. This is to ensure and monitor the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. The RTE legislation promises free and compulsory education to children in the age group of six to 14 regardless of the socio-economic strata that they might belong to. The RTE also mentions that the school admission procedure should be “non-discriminatory, rational, transparent” and this recent circular is after schools (e.g. Mount Carmel, Anand Niketan) violated the requirement.
The circular says, "The commission would like to have the information in respect of children which your institution proposed to admit in class one in the academic session 2011-12."
Apart from Class I, the circular also asks school principals to submit details of pre-school / pre-primary class admissions and the number of children proposed to be enrolled in these classes in the new session.
The Directorate of Education (DoE) pulled up schools that undermine its directives. Mount Carmel, Anand Niketan is one of them. This school has had to re-schedule its nursery admission schedule till further notice from the DoE, after it received a notice from them. The sales of forms were earlier slated for December 1 to 15. Per DoE directive, no school is authorized to commence selling of forms or declare dates for selling of forms without clear direction from the DoE.
On November 10, Mount Carmel, Anand Niketan, had announced its nursery admission dates without waiting for DoE guidelines. VK Williams, principal of the school had said, "We are a minority unaided school, so we have the liberty to decide our own schedule. We have also informed the DoE and have not received any objection yet."
Per DoE, no school can announce any dates for admission process till the RTE guidelines are notified and also that all schools have to follow a common schedule. Non-compliance to the directive will lead to action to be taken against schools which do not comply.
On Tuesday (Nov 23rd) Williams said, "We have decided to postpone the process after we received communication from the DoE asking us to do the same to maintain uniformity." The statement, of course, sounds rather hypocritical given that Mr. Williams had claimed his liberty given the school’s minority and un-aided status to defend his school’s earlier non-compliance. It is rather amusing to see principals and proctors of these types of schools claim their minority status so often.
Loyalty Mis-management: Barista sells (happens only in India) a loyalty type card for Rs 100 which allows you to get a 10% discount at all its outlets. Or so the card says. But, the card gets declined at the Barista outlet at Bangalore airport as I found out to my disappointment. Funny thing, this outlet does not even show up on Barista's web site. Writing to Barista of course yields the same result as writing to any retailer in India. Rude radio silence. To me, that implies either the Barista outlet is fake or their claim on the loyalty card is fraudulent. I will let you decide which.
CWG Delhi: For the first time ever, I saw a waterlogged overpass in Delhi. Also drove through the cantonment area to realize a city can still be run well, and it reminded me of the way Delhi used to be during my growing up years. Neat, organized and beautiful!