MUMBAI: Sudhir Ahire lost his job during the pandemic last year. Unable to pay private school fees, he shifted his teenage son and nine-year-old daughter to a municipal school. The move from a private school to a civic one seemed painful initially. Now he is all smiles.
With students being denied online classes for non-payment of fees, parents faced with job losses are making their children leave private schools and join civic and aided schools where education is free. The 10 new CBSE schools introduced by the BMC this year, and one ICSE, are flooded with applications. The schools spread across Mumbai have 40 seats each from nursery to Class VI.
“Till 2019, I used to simply write a cheque for fees. It was only when the pandemic struck that I realised my son’s fee was Rs 3,100 per month,” said Ahire, who was told about his job loss over a message. He tried to seek time from the school for payment of fees. While that did not happen, his son, in class VIII, was not allowed online access. “He was reluctant to go to a municipal school. But at least a dozen of his classmates have also joined,” he said.
BMC education officer Raju Tadvi said the non-state board schools run by the municipality are a hit among parents. He said the rush for schools is a result of the pandemic-induced financial crunch. The principal of a civic CBSE school said this year they have got middle-class parents seeking admission for their kids.
Nitin Dalvi, one of the 28 petitioners who moved the Bombay HC against two private schools for denying their children online access due to non-payment of fees, moved his son to a civic school. After court intervention, the schools allowed the 28 students online access from Friday.