The school in the eye of the storm, Mahatma Gandhi International School at Mithakhali, Ahmedabad has as one of the trustees, Lagdir Desai, the current Ahmedabad Municipal School Board chairman.
The Mayor of Ahmedabad city, the municipal commissioner, and the chairman of the municipal school board are ex-officio trustees in the trust established by the AMC in 1997. AMC gave the municipal school in the posh Mithakhali area in the trust to Anju Musafir and Pascal Chazot, a French man and an ex-director of Alliance Francaise d’Ahmedabad as other trustees.
The school is now an elite institution and many rich and influential people send their kids to this school. It is taking the resources meant for the disadvantaged of the society and diverting them to the rich; the petitioner has alleged. Ilyas Qureshi, the petitioner in the PIL and a former member of the municipal school board, has charged that only 79 disadvantaged children from other municipal schools received free admission in 23 years, in contravention of the stated objective of the trust.
School administration and the board, however, have claimed that 102 children have been admitted under the plan. The administration also put forth an argument that there aren’t many low-income students willing to attend this school. MGIS is a hi-fi school with big cars at the entrance of the school at the time of dropping and picking off the students. It would seem normal that a parent of modest means would find himself or herself reluctant to admit a child there.
The MGIS board’s office-bearers also said that many poor students are learning in regular AMC schools and the Legal Services Authority’s Signal project, in which children who beg at intersections are taught in buses.
On his part, Lagdhir Desai claimed the civic body frequently finds it challenging to suggest names for free admissions after adding that MGIS grants free admission to all students nominated by the board.
The AMC School Board Chairman said in the affidavit that Board frequently recommended fewer students than the quota of students that MGIS sought because there weren’t any interested applicants. Poor children are reportedly reluctant to enrol at MGIS because they “find it challenging to cope with the academic rigours of the International School Board at upper primary level,” The school said.