Mumbai-based school closes 2 branches in Srinagar, career of hundreds of students in quandary

SRINAGAR: Academic career of hundreds of students in Kashmir has been put on stake as the management of a Mumbai-based chain of schools has closed down two of its branches in Srinagar over differences with their associates in the valley.
“Iqra International School” had opened seven branches in Jammu and Kashmir since 2013.
However, a recent communiqué by the school said that the offices of its branches at Baghi Mehtab in uptown Srinagar and Habak in the city outskirts shall remain closed till further notice “due to the uncertainties created by the members of Global Educational Trust Mumbai (that runs the school chain) and their associates in Kashmir”.
The decision of the management to close down offices of the two branches at a time when the admissions at valley schools have been already closed has infuriated around 350 students enrolled at the institutions and their parents as well.
The closure of the Baghi Mehtab and Habak branches by the Mumbai-based “Global Educational Trust”, which runs then school chain, had created a “chaotic situation” there resulting into uncertainty among the parents of the said branches, the parents’ association said on Tuesday.
Despite repeated requests, the GET Mumbai, the parents alleged, failed to take necessary steps to address their concerns.
The parents further alleged that the trust, instead of alleviating their apprehensions, made a “big reshuffle” in the local management of the school chain in Kashmir “which has sent a very wrong and negative notion among the parents resulting in chaos and uncertainty thereby increasing mental agony and confusion among the parents of students enrolled at these branches”.
The parents demanded that the management of the two branches be handed over to educational experts nominated by the Private Schools Association J&K to secure the future of hundreds of students enrolled there.
It has also put the job of around 50 staffers posted there in an uncertainty, as per an official.
Sources said that differences between the regional management and the Mumbai head office started when the school, which was set up in J&K on “no profit no loss” basis at the outset, indulged in “profiteering and loot of parents” over the years.
They said that the management decided to close down the two branches after parents and the school staff resisted the move.
While the management hiked fee and the price of books on one hand, the liabilities on school rent and salary of staff at the two branches has touched several lakh rupees, a source said.
In proportion to the hike in fee and price of books, the school “stands nowhere”, he said.
Besides hiking the price of textbooks “by forty percent” recently, a source said that the school management in Mumbai printed the books “without MRP and on worst paper quality”.
“Essentially, they are violating metrological norms on the count of text books, whose photo copies are being distributed by the management among the students,” he said.
He further alleged that the management had refused to hike the salary of staff and even wanted to lay off some of its staff at Baghi Mehtab and Habak branches more importantly when the salary of the staff at the two branches had been withheld by the management for several months.
Now when the management at the two branches tried to seek answers from the Mumbai office, the management replaced it with their “proxies”, a source said.
A staffer at Baghi Mehtab brach of the Iqra International School alleged that the new management which has been “planted” there is harassing them of late.
The staffer said that they had been barred to entering inside the institution premises although the formal termination orders have not been issued.
Accusing the school management of resorting to “unethical” ways the staffer demanded a proper handover takeover from the Mumbai office to end the dispute.
Director School Education Kashmir, Mohammad Younis Malik said that he will look into the matter. Officials of Global Educational Trust Mumbai could not be contacted for comments.

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