Mumbai schools scared to form management committees

Thursday, 24 January 2013 - 8:00am IST
Unlike the existing Parent Teacher Association (PTA) in schools, this committee – made up of 75% parents – actually has a legal status, giving parents a legal say in the functioning of the school.

Does your child’s school have a school management committee? It won’t be surprising if close to 75% readers answer an indifferent “no” and the rest shrug it off, calling it “unnecessary.”

But don’t write off this committee just yet. It is not just another toothless tiger that will consume your time. Unlike the existing Parent Teacher Association (PTA) in schools, this committee – made up of 75% parents – actually has a legal status, giving parents a legal say in the functioning of the school.

It is no wonder then that most schools in the city or state have not publicised it. Although the Children’s Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 says that every government and private aided school must form this committee, in reality, barely one-fourth of the schools in the city have such a committee in place, say experts.

Now, that the March 31 deadline for RTE compliance is drawing closer, the state government has launched a massive campaign to create awareness among schools and parents about the role of this committee. The state government along with the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) and Maharashtra Prathamik Shikshan Parishad (MPSP) will hold training programmes for parents, teachers and school heads of private aided and government aided schools across the state. Over 80,000 SMCs are expected to be trained between February 8 to 15.

JS Saharia, secretary of school education and sports, said, “This training programme will be a major exercise. It will be done scientifically.” He added that the state is hoping that through this campaign, even those schools which have not yet formed these committees will be pressurised into forming them.

Experts say such a campaign is the need of the hour. Unlike the PTA, SMCs give parents more power, which the schools feel threatened by. “None of the schools have displayed the committee, its members and their powers on their notice boards, as per the rules. The managements do not want to publicise it as it would mean interference from parents in the school’s functioning,” said Arundhati Chavan, president of the PTA United Forum.

Ramesh Joshi, president of the civic teachers union, says that the issue of the flavoured milk had brought to light that such committees were non-existent even in civic schools. “The BMC had asked SMCs to decide whether they should continue with flavoured milk for students. But it was found that many schools did not have such committees,” he said.

More power to parents

  • SMCs need to meet at least once a month and record the decisions of the meeting properly which are made available to public
  • SMCs will have a key role in ensuring the enrolment and continued attendance of all the children from the neighborhood school is maintained
  • They will keep a firm check on the effective implementation of the RTE guidelines in the school and have the legal power to take decisions on the school’s functioning

Who can be a member

  • Nearly 75% of the members of SMC will be parents or guardians of children, including parents of children from weaker and deprived sections admitted under 25% RTE quota
  • The chairperson of SMC shall be elected from amongst the parents, in the case of schools managed by the government or local authority
  • Two students, of which at least one is a girl, shall be co-opted members. The state has ensured that 50% of the members of SMC would be women

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