Light in the Dark: In Simmba, children gather in an open space under streetlights and a single teacher conducts all classes. In reality, night schools function in regular school spaces from 6.30-9.30 pm.
“At one time, Mumbai alone had well over 200 such schools,” says Jagdale. The city still houses close to 130, but, over the years, the network has come under stress. Several policy changes, especially over the last five years, have caused a crunch in resources. “The first big blow was in 2002, when the government stopped giving night schools the grant for salary as well as a chunk of non-salary expenses. The rents we had to pay to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) schools became unaffordable. Other amenities suffered too,” says Jagdale, who now works with Masoom, an NGO that collaborates with the government to help create a sustainable model for night schools. In 2016, the government issued a regulation, taking away the “special school” status bringing them on a par with day schools. “But since many night schools don’t have as many students, the number of teachers assigned to night schools has been slashed. Schools with less than 20 students were also asked to shut down,” says Jagdale.
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