Din of school-bells to ‘wake up’ Maharashtra government

July 19th, 2011 - 11:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, July 19 (IANS) Next Monday, the bells of government-aided schools all over Maharashtra will ring in unison for a full minute to “wake up” the authorities towards their demands, a teachers’ association said here Tuesday.

“The action will be jointly carried out at 11 a.m. in more than 40,000 government supported primary and secondary schools from Mumbai to the remotest villages across the state,” Kapil Patil, head of Shikshan Bharati, told IANS.

Shikshan Bharati is an association of over 700,000 government-aided school teachers in the state, and the initiative is supported by associations of school managements and headmasters.

Explaining the problems plaguing these schools, Patil said that since last year, they have been burdened with commercial tariffs for electricity, which was earlier charged at the much lower domestic rates.

Besides, since 2004, the state government has stopped giving the mandatory non-salary grant - which was 12 percent of total salary grant to each school.

“This non-salary grant took care of the rentals on properties, regular maintenance and other academic purposes. Without it, schools are in a bad shape and are unable to carry out even basic maintenance of their buildings and other infrastructure,” Patil, also a state legislator, said.

He pointed out that while the central government has enacted the Right to Education Act, but it is being defeated by ground realities.

The situation has become critical, especially since government-aided schools cannot charge donations or capitation fees and they have to accommodate those poor students who cannot afford to pay the fees, though they are not very high, he added.

Terming the proposed July 25 protest as the “first alarm bell” for the state government, Patil said that if the authorities failed to heed it, a state-wide agitation will be launched from Aug 16.

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