MUMBAI: Schools in Maharashtra don’t want Aadhaar linking of students. The Headmasters Association argues that it is non-educational work. But sources say the real reason is that Aadhaar linking would confirm the actual number of students on school rolls, which in turn would expose the fact that the number of approved teachers has been inflated just to milk government funds.
The State’s Education Ministry has adopted an online software named SARAL (Systematic Administrative Reforms for Achievement of Learning by Students) to collect data on schools. Saral records information on teachers and students in each school. Now the Education Department wants students’ Aadhaar numbers to be recorded on Saral as well.
As per government data, over 1.80 crore students study in over one lakh primary and secondary schools in Maharashtra. This year, information on students, along with their Aadhaar card details, and teachers is required to be fed into Saral by October 5. With only three days left, many schools have not furnished the information yet. Sources say the delay is deliberate. If the real numbers are recorded, the inflation of teacher numbers would be exposed as well.
Ever since Saral was adopted two years ago, information on the number of students, approved teachers, excess teachers and vacancies is updated by September 30. The number of approved teachers depends on the number of students. Many schools inflate the required teacher numbers by showing artificially high student numbers and swipe the money the government sends to pay their salaries.
However, this year the government made Aadhaar numbers mandatory. Students whose Aadhaar numbers are not mentioned won’t be considered when aid is apportioned to schools.
However, schools were informed of the October 5 deadline only on September 28. The late disclosure has allowed headmasters to take the plea of lack of time and demand a rollback.
Prashant Redij, secretary of the Headmasters Association, says the Saral portal is plagued with problems. In cases where information in the school register is at variance with Aadhaar details, Saral doesn’t accept the data. Further, in many schools semester examinations will start from next week. “What should teachers do? Should they fill in Aadhaar information or prepare for examinations,” Redij asked.