Monday, April 22, 2013

RTE: Schools keep fingers crossed, govt yet to decide penalty

RTE: Schools keep fingers crossed, govt yet to decide penalty


A day after the deadline for implementation of the Right To Education (RTE) Act expired, representatives of the Delhi State Public Schools Association (DSPSA) met Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Education Minister Kiran Walia, seeking a reprieve. Speaking to Newsline, Walia said, "We have already brought down the minimum area requirement to 200 square meters. Beyond this, there are concerns of fire safety and other issues."
She said the delegation failed to provide any conclusive figures with regard to the number of such schools in the city.
"Since we don't know this number, we have not taken any decision on imposing penalty yet," Walia said.
On Monday, many Delhi schools remained open even as the fear of imminent closure loomed large.
After the government relaxed land requirement norms for primary schools from 800 square metres to 200 square metres last week, many schools in the bylanes of Delhi woke up to the fact that they do not meet even these revised norms.
Sajjan Bhardwaj, principal of one such school in the resettlement colony of Trilokpuri in East Delhi, said when he started the school in 2002, from a 100 square metre plot, schools did not need recognition till class VII, according to the Delhi Education Act, 1976.
The school has all the basic requirements including separate toilets for boys and girls, medium-sized classrooms, electricity back-up and potable water for students.
It operates from a four-storey building in a lane with cheek by jowl houses. It could as easily be a hotel or a private residence. The school has four rooms measuring 14 by 11 feet with ventilators and a fan. There is no play area for the children.
For the parents, infrastructure is not a priority. Manju Rawat whose child studies at the school, said, "Despite limited resources, I preferred to send my child to a private school as here, at least he gets to learn and the teachers pay attention to him."
According to parents, the two government schools in the locality do not even have benches and are packed to capacity.
"My first child used to go to the government school but they have 70 to 100 students in a class. In private schools my child gets individual attention from the teacher."
Manmeet Singh who also owns a private school in the area said the government must consider the schools' request for further relaxation of norms.
"These are budget schools. There is no way we will be able to pay hefty fines to the government. If we are given some more time, we may be able to expand our facilities," he said.

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