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Maharashtra Child Rights Commission Demands Action Against Unrecognized Schools

The Maharashtra Child Rights Commission is pushing for action against schools violating the RTE Act, prioritizing student safety and proper recognition in the state.

Mumbai: In a firm stance against educational institutions violating the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) has taken steps to ensure compliance. The Commission recently dispatched formal communications to key education authorities, urging action against schools operating without proper RTE recognition.

The commission's drive, intensifying its commitment to child safety, comes in response to a complaint lodged by a city-based NGO. Following this complaint, the MSCPCR initially contacted the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) education officials in May, seeking updates on actions taken against schools operating without RTE approval and failing to adhere to prescribed norms. However, after receiving no response, a reminder was issued on June 28 to the BMC education officer.

The chairperson of the MSCPCR, Susieben Shah, has now directed education officials to compile a comprehensive list of private schools across Maharashtra operating without valid RTE approval. This measure aims to facilitate crucial safety checks for students attending these institutions.

In an official communication dated August 18, the commission stated, "As many as 218 unaided private primary schools under the jurisdiction of BMC continue to operate without the renewal of certificates mandated by the RTE Act. Similar cases are reported under the jurisdiction of Maharashtra's five divisional deputy directorates of education, 28 municipalities, and 24 zilla parishads. Identifying these schools is of paramount importance, as it directly pertains to the safety of students. A thorough list of such institutions must be prepared, and appropriate actions, including inspections, need to be carried out in accordance with established criteria."

Data shared by the BMC under the Right to Information (RTI) Act revealed that 218 private unaided primary schools in Mumbai are currently lacking or have failed to extend their RTE recognition. Prominent institutions like Anandilal Podar High School (Santacruz), Raje Shivaji Primary School (Dadar), and St. Michael High School (Mahim) are among those listed.

The RTE Act of 2009 mandates that no school can operate without a valid government-issued recognition certificate. The BMC is the authorized body responsible for issuing these certificates to primary schools. According to the Act, schools are required to renew their RTE approval every three years. Failure to do so can result in fines of up to Rs 10,000 per day, with management also subject to a penalty of Rs 1 lakh for unauthorized operation. While some of the 218 schools have failed to renew their recognition since 2016, others have applied after the given deadline.

Nitin Dalvi, a spokesperson for the Maharashtra Rajya Vidyarthi, Palak, Shikshak Mahasangh, emphasized that beyond financial audits, schools must adhere to various criteria, including maintaining the teacher-student ratio, admitting underprivileged students, and conducting safety audits. The renewal of RTE recognition is only granted after these requirements are verified by education inspectors. Dalvi expressed concern about the neglect of these irregularities by the education department and stressed the importance of student safety.

While the state government is considering revising parameters for recognizing schools, Shah highlighted the need for careful consideration to ensure child safety is not compromised.

In light of these developments, the spotlight remains on the government's response to the MSCPCR's demand for action and the broader implications for educational institutions operating without proper RTE approval.

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