Friday, January 24, 2014

State tweaks RTE norms, relaxes condition for 4,000 sq m ground

State tweaks RTE norms, relaxes condition for 4,000 sq m ground

Swati Shinde Gole, TNN Jul 4, 2013, 01.52AM IST

KOLHAPUR/PUNE: In a move that will give much relief to space-starved schools in cities, the state government has relaxed the 4,000 square metre playground rule of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act. As per a new government resolution (GR), issued on June 29, schools with 500 students can now have a 2,000 square metre playground. Schools with fewer students can have a 648 square metre ground.
Also, as per the GR, schools that have no playgrounds can use open spaces or grounds available with local civic bodies by securing a no objection certificate (NOC) from them.
Director of state education department Mahavir Mane said that in a survey conducted by the department on RTE compliance among schools, it was found that many schools were facing problems in implementing some of the provisions despite having the will to do so. "For instance, several urban schools lacked the space for a playground due to space crunch. Hence, that criteria has been changed. Schools can now utilise a nearby public playground with the permission of the local body," Mane said.
Mane said that the conditions laid out in the RTE act are generic in nature that can be applied across the country. "Their applicability varies and hence it was decided to make slight changes in the parameters, without changing the basic aim, yet making it state specific."
Of the 10 infrastructure requirements laid out by the RTE act, seven conditions including those for separate and mandatory toilets for boys and girls, a ramp for physically challenged students, drinking water facility, kitchen shed, compound wall, playground and classrooms have been changed.
The GR specifies that classrooms will now have to be built strong enough to be earthquake proof, but ironically relaxes the construction requirements for kitchen shed, ramp, and the school compound wall. Also, the number of toilets required in each school will be based on the student strength, as per the GR.
There are some changes in the drinking water facility norm as well. If earlier, schools were meant to have a 2,000 litre water tank along with a tap for every 40 students, as per the revised criteria schools can have the same capacity of water tanks but with two taps for every 60 students, and thereafter a tap for every 30 students.
The changes haven't exactly impressed activists. Sandeep Chavan, member of Forum for Fairness in Education, a non-governmental organisation, said, "Changing the parameters alone will not help in meeting the provisions of the RTE act. It only remains on paper, the key is implementation. Meeting the infrastructure provision as per RTE will take some time for over one lakh schools in the state. This should be a long-term programme and cannot be rushed into. The state should prioritise its preferences when it comes to implementing the RTE Act." Chavan said that, priority should first be given to a fair admission system not just at entry level but also pre-schools, the bill for which is still pending.

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