Amresh Das, a native of Bihar who recently migrated to Mumbai to work in a shop, is elated to share that his son Ayush will be going to an English medium school for free. This is something that was impossible, according to Das, if not for the Mission Admission campaign launched by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Education Department.
“I am from a village near Muzaffarpur district. Even a Hindi-medium primary school is more than 15kms away from there,” said Das who migrated to Mumbai after the second wave of Covid in search of work.
Worried about the education expenditure of his son, Das was relieved to know that his child could study at a neighbourhood school for free.
His son’s admission was finalised at Ganesh Nagar Mumbai Public School (MPS) in Kandivali earlier this week.
Like Das’s son, over 25,000 children have secured new admissions in various MPS as part of the Mission Admission, which concluded its first phase on Saturday. These schools offer education in eight mediums – English, Marathi, Urdu, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati and Tamil. They have proved to be a boon not just for children of migrants but also for drop-outs who want to resume their education.
As part of Mission Admission, civic schools and their teachers are making extra efforts to reach out to neighbouring places to create awareness and identify children eligible for school admissions.
“There is a typical psyche among parents who think putting their children in schools means additional expenditure. During visits to their localities and homes under the campaign, teachers explained to them that civic schools are for free and, in fact, provide several other benefits such as midday meals, uniforms and textbooks. Many were more than happy to enrol their kids after this,” said Preeti Gawai, in-charge teacher of the Chembur Camp MPS in Collector Colony, which has prepared an interactive leaflet for Mission Admission for circulation in the local slum areas.
It was this leaflet dropped in his chawl through which construction worker Milind Jaiswal came to know about the school and its facilities. His elder son who never went to school will now study in Class 1 directly due to the age-appropriate admission system.
“We will be running bridge courses for all such children as schools begin. The objective is to bring them at learning outcomes expected at the age before we start the new curriculum,” said Nishtha Waikar, principal, Ganesh Nagar MPS.
According to most MPS, it was civic schools’ engagement with children during the pandemic that really supported the mission with many parents wanting to shift to municipal schools from smaller private schools where they were denied learning access due to non-payment of fees. Many schools wish to start such campaigns earlier next year so that civic school admission can begin along with that of private schools.
Citing an example of how the initiative has touched lives, Ambarsing Magar, principal of Ghatkopar’s Barve Nagar MPS School, said, “We have secured two admissions of children who live under the Metro Bridge and have never been to school. Our teacher, while creating awareness in the vicinity, came across these children who are out-of-school and educated their parents on the need for school.”
The BMC education department plans to reach the goal of 1 lakh new admissions under the campaign. “We are already seeing the impact and it has just been phase 1. After summer vacation, the Mission Admission campaign will resume in June to enrol more eligible children in schools,” said Rajesh Kankal, BMC Education officer.