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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Stories of education dept bribes

MUMBAI: Fr Gregory Lobo, secretary of the Archdiocesan Board of Education which runs 150 Catholic schools in Mumbai, has unwittingly opened a can of
worms by going on record with his accusations of bribery and corruption against the education department. Since his courageous move, TOI has received a steady stream of phone calls from other educationists with similar stories to tell.

Fr Lobo had accused the auditors of the education department in Mumbai of demanding a bribe of Rs 300 per teacher in order to sanction sixth pay commission salaries. And now educationists in Thane are crying foul over similar incidents.

Fr Wilson Rebello, director of the Vasai diocese education board, which is in charge of 61 Catholic schools in Vasai and nine surrounding talukas, has said auditors in the Thane district education department demanded a hefty bribe to sanction sixth pay commission salaries. "I've received several complaints from teachers who say the Thane district auditor is demanding a bribe of Rs 600 per teacher to sanction the revised salaries of secondary school teachers, and Rs 500 for primary school teachers,'' said Fr Rebello.

He's not the only one with complaints of corruption in the Thane education department. The School Teachers' Association of Thane has written to some 400 schools in the district, including institutions in Bhayandar, Ulhasnagar and Dahanu, asking them not to cough up the money for such bribes. "The department is asking for Rs 600 per head in order to sanction the revised pay scales. We've appealed to schools not to pay the bribe,'' said Santosh Pawde, president of the association. Pawde is a teacher in Dahanu.

On Wednesday, when TOI first reported charges of corruption against the department, several educationists spoke out against the department. These include Mumbai Coaching Class Owners' Association president Jagdish Walawalkar and PTA United Forum president Arundhati Chavan.

While the spotlight is at present on corruption at the lower levels in the education department, Chavan says the problem starts at the Mantralaya level and trickles down. State education minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil has promised to carry out an enquiry into the matter.

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