Thursday, January 23, 2014

Schools heave a sigh of relief as Maharashtra govt softens RTE norms

Schools heave a sigh of relief as Maharashtra govt softens RTE norms

Himanshu Nitnaware, TNN Jul 6, 2013, 12.42AM IST

AURANGABAD: With the Maharashtra government softening its norms under the Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009, 77 city schools can now heave a sigh of relief.
With the revision of norms, these 77 Aurangabad schools will be now eligible under the RTE ambit and will not face action from the zilla parishad (ZP).
In a directive issued on June 29, the state relaxed norms for schools laid under the Act, including playgrounds, urinals, ramps, water facilities, compound walls, kitchen sheds and classrooms.
The region has around 1,046 primary schools, of which around 816 schools have submitted detailed reports of compliance and have undergone inspection, said Nitin Upasani, ZP education officer. Upasani said that the move follows practical constraints for many schools in implementing the RTE provisions.
According to the revised norms, schools can now use open spaces or any other playground in the vicinity - a clause that was already under consideration, given space constraints in many city schools. Upasani stated that schools with centralised kitchen facilities will not have to comply with the requisite norm of a separate kitchen shed or arrange for separate water facilities for cooking. The revised norms specify 2 litres of water per student for cooking midday meals and another 2 litres of drinking water, so the latter needs to be in place.
According to the newly-suggested ratio of washrooms, schools must have three urinals and one toilet. Since new washroom constructions offer an equal number of toilets and urinals, separate toilets for boys and girls are to be ensured on school inspections.
School authorities in the city welcomed the revised norms. "We were worried about completing the only lacuna of a separate kitchen shed: we just don't have the space. With this decision, we were relieved," said Sudhakar Gayke, principal of Narsinha Vidyamandir. Omkar Pawar, principal of the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Primary School, said that the compulsion of implementing RTE norms has helped raise the infrastructural standard of the school. "The revised decision has offered us the flexibility to implement norms according to the available space," Pawar said.
The only worry for schools now pertains to the primary and upper primary classes, with the norm of a separate classroom for 35 students with a carpet area of 490 square feet. These classrooms should also have enough windows and should withstand earthquakes. Upasani said a second round of inspections have not been carried out due to this specific norm.

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