In Shivaji Nagar, the government-run schools are only till 8th standard (RTE years), after which, children have to join a private school or have to travel far to attend government senior secondary schools. As a result, un-registered schools have mushroomed across Shivaji Nagar jostling for space with kirana shops in the area. Awestruck and poorly informed parents are enticed by the trappings of these little education shops.
In 2017, a Youth Civic Action Group, took on the challenge and got to work trying to root out these unregistered schools, unaffiliated to Government authorisation and prescribed standards of education.
A plan to call out such schools in Shivaji Nagar was finalised by the youth CAG, Apnalaya arranged an exposure visit with the Education Inspector of Mumbai Suburb. There, they came to know that the government was aware of these illegal schools, but hadn’t done much about it, other than sending them a notice. The youth demanded from the department, a list of legal schools in the area. Upon verification of the sites by the CAG, 13 schools were found to be illegal. They petitioned the Education Officer seeking redressal to this problem.
Six months later, in 2018-19, they finally got a reply stating that most of the schools are primary schools and therefore, not under the jurisdiction of the state government, but the MCGM. They were assured that the listed secondary schools would be inspected by the department.
The groups were then informed that the state government had issued a notice to these illegal schools to either shut the schools or pay the prescribed penalty. The youth of this Civic Action Group continue to follow up with the Education department regarding the notice, in the hope that further action will be taken.
Apnalaya’s Citizenship Programme builds community leadership, to support the emergence of grassroots leaders (both adults and youth) to tackle civic issues in their communities. The programme focuses on developing their understanding on constitutional values & rights, social entitlements & responsibilities, as well as providing technical support to working with the government.
To date, 517 volunteers from 12 slum clusters in Shivaji Nagar have been trained to identify civic issues and work with the government for their resolution. These volunteers aged 18 to 55 years are distributed into 15 Civic Action Groups and 9 Youth Civic Action Groups actively working on various issues. Youth Civic Action Groups have kick-started 18 projects in 2018-19 alone, of which six have been completed.