Congress members of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) on Sunday questioned the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) about the spending of previous AMC School Board budget even as they complained of lack of teachers and dilapidated buildings in schools run by the board.
The issue came up during discussions on the AMC School Board budget at its general board meeting Sunday. The board had proposed an annual budget of Rs 1,071 crore for the financial year 2023-’24 against Rs 893 crore in the previous year.
“Over 88 per cent of the Rs 1,071 crore of the school board budget is allocated for establishment expenses and only 6 per cent for students’ development and education activities. Even in the previous budget, where allocation was made for karate, yoga and smartphones for children, there is no accountability on the number of beneficiaries,” said Congress councillor from Amraiwadi Jagdishbhai Rathod who is also the party whip.
Shehzad Khan Pathan, corporator from Danilimda and Leader of Opposition (LoP), alleged that a few signal schools — AMC’s scheme for children found begging on the traffic signals — were found non-functional without any students.
The opposition also alleged that 20 school buildings are in a dilapidated state in the city where 131 buildings are more than 50 years old. There is no provision for repair work for these buildings in this budget, Pathan stated.
The opposition also alleged that many municipal schools do not even have benches and students sit on the floor, while due to no regular cleaning staff in schools, children’s health and hygiene were also at risk.
“The school board has been lauding itself for the selection of 217 schools under the state government’s Mission Schools of Excellence scheme but the truth is that these schools lack 317 teachers. The shortage of teachers is across 459 total schools which is covered up by paravasi (visiting) teachers who are paid on hourly basis,” Rathod said in his address.
In reply, standing committee chairman Hitesh Barot said that nearly 450 posts and appointments were sanctioned by the state government but these could not join due to one reason or the other.
“Nearly 20,000 students were given tablets last year,” he responded to opposition’s questions on smartphone for students.
Other issues such as merging of schools, merging of classrooms, lack of trained teachers for English medium schools, closing of other medium schools and non-distribution of books and notebooks to school students were also raised during the discussion.