Students left in the lurch after Daryaganj school shuts down

- March 30, 2024
| By : Monish Upadhyay |

Frustrated parents seek admission for their wards in other schools in far-flung areas as new academic session knocks on the door

ON THE EDGE: Parents anxiously wait for their children as they appear for an examination at National Public School

Shakeel Ur Rehman is among scores of parents eagerly waiting outside National Public School in Daryaganj for their wards to return after completing their annual examination. 

Tense murmurs are exchanged. But usual examination butterflies are not the only reason for their worries. 

The school is on the verge of closure after over six decades of existence. 

“I don’t know where my son will study, now that the exams are about to be over,” says Shakeel.

Mohammad Furqan, whose daughter is slated for promotion to class three, recalls how he got to know about the impending closure of National Public School. 

“On March 7, I received a notice on our WhatsApp group of school management and parents. It stated that the school’s recognition would lapse on March 31 and premises will be shut down on April 1. I simply could not believe it,” says Furqan, clenching his fist. 

He wonders why school authorities did not inform them about the decision earlier. 

The new academic session, slated to begin from April, will see the 400-odd students seeking fresh admissions as news around the closure has stunned the local community. 

“Ever since I received the notice of closure, I have been running around. It is not like it (admission to school) is a straightforward process with these huge donations involved,” says a parent over phone on the condition of anonymity. 

According to him, the development has left him and his family devastated. 

“My daughter is very silent these days. These are a child’s developmental years and now she will have to adjust to a new environment, find new friends,” says a worried Furqan. 

NEW AVENUE: The management at National Public School Kalindi Colony states that it welcomes students from the Daryaganj branch, which is shutting down

“The school authorities have given us no information and have merely promised a smooth transition for the kids,” says Shakeel pointing to a registration form on the walls of the school.

The form provides parents with options ranging from private aided and unaided schools to those run by the government. However, admissions to the stated schools would depend on the availability of seats in the prescribed classes. 

Many parents complain of the long distances their children would need to travel on a regular basis to the advised schools. 

“It is not possible for me as a Daryaganj resident to take my child to a school in Civil Lines every day. I have not visited any of the schools mentioned by the management in the registration form,” says the parent. 

Nisheman Primary School, situated in Central Delhi’s Civil Lines, is one of the schools prescribed by National Public School. 

“We are yet to receive parents who would like to transfer their children to our establishment,” informed authorities at the primary school, which runs classes from 1st-5th. 

According to them, the authorities of National Public School, Daryaganj, had indeed communicated regarding the admission of their students. 

However, many parents allege that the management has not reached out to all the advised educational establishments. 

Nisheman had 40 seats available for admissions at the time of writing this report. 

“Why would I admit my daughter in a primary school? I would be forced to switch schools at a later stage,” complains Furqan on phone. 

He calls this advisory a tactic to divert attention over the short notice closure. 

“The management has been unresponsive to us so far, with only information regarding transfer certificates being made available,” he alleges. 

Shakeel says the authorities should have been forthright with the parents regarding the order. “The notice sent to us stated that the order by the Directorate of Education (DoE) was passed last year on November 24. Why did they wait till March to tell us?” he asks, while saying the school has left him in a difficult position. 

In the order passed by the Directorate, the reason for closure has been cited as the sale of the school infrastructure and management by Managing Society National Schools to Baptist Church Trust Association (BCTA) in 2016 “without any intimation to the government”. 

“We had to vacate our previous premises at 21, Daryaganj a few years ago due to a court injunction brought upon by the premises owner,” says Kuldeep Pabreja, Chairman of National Public School, Kalindi Colony branch. 

“It was only the parents and local community leaders who requested us to make arrangements for a separate premises in Daryaganj area in the interest of then-enrolled students,” he adds.

“Hence, we merged the infrastructure while we shifted to the premises run by the BCTA. We welcome parents from the closed school who would like to see transfer to this branch as well,” he says further. 

Pabreja also mentions that the managing society has not been in much communication with BCTA after Covid. 

However, he claims the Daryaganj school provided good facilities to its students. 

“The fees are marginal compared to other bigger, branded schools. We always sought a cordial relationship with parents and their wards,” Pabreja sighs. 

The schools advised in the registration form are situated in Civil Lines, Kalindi Colony and Fatehpuri with only two options reserved in Daryaganj. Options further diminish as Francis Girls Senior Secondary School and Jain Senior Secondary School, both in Daryaganj, only seek to admit students from class 1st and classes 6th-8th. 

The notice by DoE also mentions the fact that previous school’s staff at 21, Daryaganj was not retained by the new management of BCTA. 

A staff member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, stated that he too was not much informed on the issue. 

“We were told that the school premises would be shut down by the order of DoE. This is as far as I can tell you,” said the staff member. 

“The management has asked for our CVs with promises of fresh new joinings, but nothing has happened so far in that direction.” 

ALTERNATIVE: United English Medium School, located in Civil Lines, is one of the schools suggested by National Public School management for transfer of the students

Delhi-based lawyer Ashok Aggarwal,who runs an NGO for the rights of children , says on the matter, “School closures are a rare occurrence and definitely leave an impact on parents and kids. However, parents can only reconsider admission options or seek legal help in case they feel wronged.” 

The school management, helmed by BCTA, have referred the writer of the piece to its sister organisation, Baptist Union of North India (BUNI). 

Attempts to contact DoE failed as response to a mail questionnaire is awaited. 

Options seem diminished for students as a parent puts it, “The only thing left to do is to run around in this Ramzan while my family is distressed. This is what this school has given us.”