Ardhra Nair : Pune, Sun Mar 31 2013, 04:23 hrs
As the March 31 deadline for compliance with the Right To Education 2009 Act approaches, several states have sought an extension. Whereas in Maharashtra, officials claim that about 80 per cent of the schools have already complied with the RTE norms.
The ground reality, however, may be far removed from what these officials project. The latest District Information System for Education (DISE) shows how.
"About 80 to 90 per cent of the schools pass all the 10 essential criteria set by the RTE Act," said a senior official of the state education department, adding, "March 31 is the deadline and the matter is sub-judice. We will able to give further details only by tomorrow."
The infrastructural indicators as given by the RTE are building, office-cum-head master's room, one classroom for every teacher, ramp for disabled students, separate toilets for boys and girls, drinking water facilities, kitchen shed, boundary wall and playground.
But the latest data, which took into account the 35 districts of Maharashtra, paints a sad picture. The provisional statistical data of DISE 2011-12 report states that only 59.05 per cent schools have a boundary wall. Only 29.24 per cent have kitchen sheds, while only 63.35 per cent schools have a playground.
As per the DISE data, only 64.96 per cent schools have ramps for the disabled. Only 78.15 per cent primary schools have these ramps.
When it comes to drinking water and toilet facilities, the state has not been able to ensure 100 per cent compliance.
Officials, however, were quick to provide information on the "budgetary allocations". "Budgetary allocation for 45,000 kitchen sheds have been made. Of this, 10,000 are ready in various schools. Others will soon be ready," said Mahavir Mane, state director of Primary Education.
Asked about lack of space leading to vertical schools and non-availability of playgrounds in schools in urban areas, another official said, "Lack of space is a big issue today. Many schools do not have play grounds in Pune and Mumbai. But many are taking corporation and other grounds on lease."
Activists said the statistics by the education department were not correct.
"The official statement that 80 per cent of the schools have complied with RTE is untrue. Even reputed schools do not have functional toilets and drinking water facilities. The state of government schools will be worse. Schools must have provided the department with incorrect data. It is possible that officials did not cross-check the information," said Matin Mujawar, president, Shikshan Hakka Manch.