Nagpur: Thousands of school owners from across the state have decided to throng Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis official residence at Nagpur next month to press for their various pending demands. Maharashtra English School Trustees Association (MESTA) held a state-level meet in city on Tuesday evening and resolved they would all converge in city next month and gherao Fadnavis.
Sanjay Tayde-Patil, founder-president of the organization, said, “We have been knocking on their doors for so long but all our demands have been neglected.”
Though their demand list is long it is primarily dominated by Right to Education (RTE) Act admissions, proposed Fee Regulation Act and legislation to protect teachers and schools from attackers. Schools have been giving RTE admissions since 2012 but none have received reimbursements. Tayde-Patil said, “After our big morcha in Pune last month, the education commissioner told us RTE money would be paid soon. Education minister Vinod Tawde had given similar assurance. What we have learnt now is that the government does not believe in keeping its promises. So now we take the fight to them and ask the CM to deal directly with thousands of aggrieved schools from state.”
Rajendra Dayma, state general secretary of MESTA, said, “The government has been making us run from pillar to post for getting RTE reimbursements. In Jalna, schools are being asked to show income certificates of students from 2012, even though all the documentation was given to them last in that year itself. Similarly, they keep pressuring schools for some document or the other and ultimately delay the reimbursement.”
MESTA also opposes the proposed Fee Regulation Act because it puts full control in government’s hands. Tayde-Patil said, “If that Act is implemented in toto, then we will not be allowed to increase the fee, ever. How will our expenses ever be met if we do not increase our fee with inflation? Government expects us to be like NGOs that are dependent completely on donations.” Another demand is for a law to protect school property and staff from attackers. “It is common for mobs to come to school demanding admissions or donation for various cultural programmes throughout the year. There have been many incidents where staff members have been attacked, face blackened and school property damaged by hooligans. So just like the law for doctors, there has to be some legislation brought in to protect schoolteachers as well,” said Tayde-Patil.
State’s plan to digitalize its operations also came in for flak as MESTA said the software being used, SARAL, was not needed. Tayde-Patil said, “We already have an online database called U-DISE. They told us to fill only U-DISE a couple of years ago to put an end to multiple reporting systems. Now they have come up with SARAL, a few years ahead there will be something else. This keeps on going and we suffer all the time. They are merely replicating an existing system without any reason.”