Saturday, January 25, 2014

DDA sits on land required to build missing schools

DDA sits on land required to build missing schools

Shreya Roy Chowdhury, TNN Dec 18, 2013, 02.50AM IST

NEW DELHI: Government schools in Delhi are far fewer than the number required to meet the requirements of the Right to Education Act.
Directorate of Education has been writing to Delhi Development Authority in this regard, asking it to release plots DoE has identified for new schools, but the allotment is still pending. The communications obtained in response to an RTI query say that DoE is currently running 970 schools in 680 buildings with 290 in second shifts.
Writing to DDA, Amit Singla, director, education, points out that with enrolment in Delhi government schools increasing by over a lakh every year, at least 250 schools have to be opened to meet RTE-prescribed student-teacher ratios and the requirement of neighbourhood schools.
"The position is more alarming in east, northeast and south," he adds. In some schools of these districts, more than 12,000 students are studying; about 6,000 each in morning and evening shifts. "Such large concentration of students in a building is also not appropriate for disaster management purposes."
"Generally, DDA follows the policy of allotting 50% of school sites to government and 50% to private. However, over the years, the allotment of school sites by DDA to private agencies is nearly double than (that to) government. Under RTE Act, 2009, Delhi government is statutorily bound to open neighbourhood schools and ensure admission of all children in the age group of 6-14 years. There is no such obligation cast on private schools," Singla writes.
Opening more schools has figured in party manifestos in the recent assembly elections and is also one of the 18 conditions placed by Aam Aadmi Party before BJP and Congress. The former chief secretary of Delhi, P K Tripathi, too, had written to DDA vice-chairman in May 2012, saying, "While allotting the land, emphasis may be given to the district east and northeast which urgently need... new schools." Appended to Tripathi's letter was a list of over 80 plots identified by DoE but not allotted.
"In the list of plots, over 40 are in Dwarka," says lawyer-activist Khagesh Jha who had filed the RTI.

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