*Number of students attending BMC-run regional language schools is declining while the number of students attending English schools is increasing.

* The number of teachers has been falling for regional schools but is increasing in English schools.

* Over 80% of expenses on education annually is used to pay salaries and pensions of employees

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is India’s richest civic body. Its spend on education has increased sharply in recent years but as IndiaSpend’s Prachi Salve discovers, the increase is mostly being spent on paying salaries and pensions of employees.

Moreover, the number of students attending regional language schools is declining while the number of students attending English schools is increasing. The number of teachers has been falling for regional schools but is increasing in English schools. And the numbers of students and teachers have been increasing in schools for the mentally challenged.

Providing Free Education

The Mumbai Municipal Corporation provides free primary education to children enrolled in around 1,400 schools. Most of the education department’s income comes from grants from the state and central governments and the education cess collected by the corporation. According to budget estimates of this year, capital receipts for the education budget were Rs547 crore, which was 235% higher compared to last year’s Rs163 crore.

The BMC spends around 8- 9% of income on education, and it plans to spend nearly Rs 2,342 crore this year. Table 1 shows the increase in expenditure on education from 2008-09 to 2012–13.

Table 1: Increasing Focus On Education

Type of expenditure 2008 – 09 2009 – 10 2010 – 11 2011 – 12 (R.E) 2012 – 13 (B.E)
Capital expenditure63.2174.4841.76179.87367.01
Revenue Expenditure851.191,036.031,016.451,237.471,975.62
Total expenditure914.401,110.511,058.211,417.342,342.63

(Figures in Rs crore; Source: BMC Budget 2012)

It’s clear from Table 1 that there has been a steady increase in spending on education from 2008-09, and has seen an increase of nearly 65% from Rs 1,417 crore in 2011-12 to Rs 2,342 crore in 2012-13.

Much of the increase in spending on education can be explained by the constant growth of the revenue expenditure. Revenue expenditure includes establishment expenses (salaries and pensions of employees), operation and maintenance of schools and debt servicing on loans raised by the corporation. Even though the revenue expenditure has declined from 96% in 2010–11 to 84% in 2012 -13, it still remains significantly high.

The majority of revenue expenditure is spent on salaries and pensions of employees. According to the 2012-13 budget for the education department (Budget E), nearly55% of revenue expenditure is being spent on salaries and pensions while only a mere 9% is spent on O&M.

Actual Numbers

In a Right to Information (RTI) petition filed by IndiaSpend regarding the number of students and teachers in BMC schools, the following information was provided. (We also asked for information regarding the money spent on salaries but no reply was provided).

While Table 2.1 shows the number students in different language schools from 2007-08 to 2011-12, Table 2.2 shows the number of teachers during the same period:

Table 2.1: Dwindling Numbers in Language Schools

Number of students 2007 – 08 2008 – 09 2009 – 10 2010 – 11 2011 – 12 (percentages)
Marathi129,262119,588107,413102,21492,335 (24%)
Hindi120,280119,353113,726116,819119,157 (30%)
Gujarati11,3369,8478,9088,7157,870 (2%)
Urdu106,169105,117102,778102,082101,430 (26%)
Tamil12,47611,12910,0329,2338,226 (2.1%)
Telugu5,4154,3343,4693,3593,036 (0.7%)
Kanada5,0704,5664,2573,8293,631 (1%)
English21,89923,17026,63729,80831,581 (8.1)
Schools for the mentally Challenged763849889894847 (0.2%)
Mumbai Public school*7,7709,53010,86714,15817,544 (4.5%)
Total number of students420,440407,483388,976391,111385,657 (100%)

Table 2.2: English Schools In Focus

Number of teachers 2007 – 08 2008 – 09 2009 – 10 2010 – 11 2011 – 12 (percentages)
Marathi4,8035,3584,8144,2614,043 (35%)
Hindi2,7412,6873,2963,0682,946 (25%)
Gujarati528540491490376 (3.2%)
Urdu2,1762,2952,8482,6682,660 (23%)
Tamil385403346361326 (2.8%)
Telugu161198158148121 (1%)
English298253599534611 (5.3%)
Schools for the mentally Challenged5659737077 (0.6%)
Mumbai public school *3610712996191 (1.6%)
Total number of teachers11,32512,04712,92511,84911,487

(Data refers to students/teacher as per medium of instruction. English schools teach Maths/Science in English and everything else in Marathi.*Mumbai public schools refer to schools where the language of teaching is English).)

The number of students attending municipal schools fell from 420,440 in 2007-08 to 385,657 in 2011-12. Table 2.1 shows that the number of students has declined for all regional schools but has increased in English language schools even though the percentage of English schools remains low. The highest number of students in BMC schools is in Urdu-medium schools (101,430 students) and the highest reduction ( 36,927) was seen in students attending Marathi schools from 129,262 to 92,335 students between 2007 and 2012. So, the per student expense has increased 36% from Rs 27,056 in 2010-11 to Rs 36,750 in 2011-12.

It is clear from Table 2.2 that the number of teachers has been fluctuating. The number increased between 2007-08 and 2009-10 from 11,325 to 12,925 with an increase of 1,600 teachers but it fell to 11,487 in 2011-12 with a drop of 1,438 teachers.

Let us now look at teachers in language schools: teachers in Marathi schools fell from 4,803 in 2007-08 to 4,043 in 2011-12 (a reduction of 760 teachers). The number of teachers increased from 298 to 611 in English schools. Interestingly, the number of teachers also increased in Urdu and Hindi schools by 313 and 205, respectively, between 2007 and 2012.

Student-Teacher Ratio

The general student-teacher ratio in BMC schools is around 33:1 while the ideal student-teacher ratio, according to Right to Education Act, is 30:1. Most regional language schools run by the BMC have a favourable student-teacher ratio with Marathi schools having the lowest student-teacher ratio of 22:1. The highest among regional schools run by the BMC is in Urdu schools with a ratio 38:1. The performance can be explained by the dwindling number of students in regional language schools and not the increasing number of teachers.

On the other hand, the student-teacher ratio for English schools is 51:1, which clearly shows the need for more teachers as the number of students is increasing every year. The condition is equally bad in the BMC-run public schools where the student-teacher ratio is 91:1. Similarly, according to the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment,the ideal student-teacher ratio for mentally challenged pupils is 5:1 but the ratio is nearly 11:1 in BMC-run schools.

Time For A Rethink

Even though there has been a significant increase in the expenditure on education by the BMC, the corporation-run schools continue to see a reduction in students. So, the challenge for the corporation would be to look at the data and change its services, may be by recruiting more teachers in English language schools as well as Mumbai public schools.