Education rights organisations in Mumbai, including political parties, have called for a protest march on March 16 in Azad Maidan against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) decision to handover all 1,174 schools under it to private organisations, corporates and NGOs.
Seeking reversal of BMC’s decision on January 23, in the “guise of improving quality” under public-private partnerships, the organisations have demanded that the municipal corporation must provide “free, compulsory and equal quality education to all children up to 12th standard’’.
“The Mumbai Municipal Act and the Constitution mandate that the responsibility of primary education lies with the Municipal Corporation. However, the BMC is washing its hands away from the responsibility of primary education. This is only a beginning of privatisation of education,” said a press release issued on Thursday.
It said the Maharashtra and Central governments provide funds to the BMC for education, and the BMC levies additional education cess to meet the expenses for education. However, even the basic facilities are not provided in BMC schools; enough number of teachers and supporting staff are also not appointed; teachers are burdened with non-academic work,” they alleged.
Fearing that municipal schools may go the way of the city cotton mills in 1982, the release said institutions such as IITs and Kendriya Vidyalayas, set up by the Government, were of good quality. “So if the BMC/Government decides, they can improve the condition of BMC schools also,” it added.
Among those who have called for the protest are Aapli Mumbai, AISA, Indian Social Movement, India Against Corruption, AISF, Kokanastha Dalit Mahila Sanghatana, Janata Dal (Secular) Phule Ambedkar Rashtriya Vidyarthi Sanghatana, Bhareep Bahujan Mahasangh, Communist Party of India, Maharashtra Sarva Shramik Sangh, Mumbai Municipal Kamgaar Sangh, Mumbai Electric Employees Union, Replublican Panther, Rashtra Seva Dal, CPI(ML, Liberation), Mumbai Shikshan Kampanikaran Virodhi Abhiyaan and All India Forum for Right to Education.