The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation runs more than 1000 schools in Mumbai with a total enrolment of over 650,000. Their purpose is to provide primary education at low cost. Shifts in population, specially of the jobless and the homeless, now threaten the functioning of these schools.
In recent years many mills and other factories in the Island city have closed down, and there has been an intense drive by the BMC to clear away slums. This has displaced a large population from the previously crowded areas of Parel and Lalbaug. Several schools have had to be closed because of lack of students. The remaining students then have to travel to a school further off, resulting in a further decline in attendance. In addition, as earning members of the family become jobless, students drop out of school in order to help shore up the family's income.
In contrast, suburban schools are overcrowded. The number of teachers is far less than what is required; sometimes a teacher has to take two classes at the same time. Such problems have led to a fall in enrolments even in the suburbs.
The BMC runs a mid-day meal scheme in its schools--- providing milk and khichdi to all students. In some schools this scheme has been discontinued.
A policy of no failures has been implemented, which makes it mandatory for all schools to pass all children in their first four years of schooling. This, coupled with a lack of individualised teaching, has occassionally resulted in children entering middle school without having acquired elementary reading or writing skills. The drop out rate among such students is very high.
Statistics of enrolments and number of schools
From the Times of India, April 9, 1998.