It’s not just teachers that the schools are missing — the Palike’s Education department is functioning without three subject inspectors. This means that there is no oversight on how certain subjects are taught in these schools. Besides this, another 300 odd posts related to cleaning staff, libraries, security staff etc have also remained unfilled since 2000. And the BBMP has not initiated any move to fill these positions.
Debris lying in the school premises of Corporation High School Shivajinagar.
Pic: Sriram V.
When it comes to infrastructure, BBMP schools are beset by schools without enough classrooms, classrooms without electricity, lack of drinking water, lack of toilets, and rickety benches. For example, CHS Shivajinagar is housed in the same complex as the BBMP’s Health Center and the Engineering Ward Office. According to Principal N Raja Reddy, "The Engineering Ward Office next to the school premises has meant that it has become a dumping ground for dismantled road side shops, hoardings and other debris. The students have to wade through the debris to get to the toilet", he says.
Intriguingly, the BBMP, unchastened by their foray into education, has plans to take over all government schools in the city. Currently, the bulk of government schools in the city — around 3000 in number — are run by the state government’s Department of Public Instruction(DPI). The 2009-10 medium-term fiscal plan, presented by then BBMP Commissioner Dr S Subramanya says, "All primary, secondary and high schools presently administered by the State Government within the BBMP jurisdiction should be transferred to the BBMP".
Toilets at Corporation High School Malleswaram are not functioning due to dysfunctional water supply.
Pic: Shamsheer Yousaf.
The report says that the state government must accept this proposal first mooted by the Administrative Reforms Commission, and the BBMP should be prepared for the same. It is not clear where Subramanya’s plan referred to the central government’s ARC or a state government ARC.
While Corporations in cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai run a large number of schools, with enrolled students running into lakhs, the BBMP needs to make amends before it can be entrusted with the remaining schools. A little more alacrity towards fixing staff shortages and infrastructure could go a long way towards rebuilding this trust. ⊕