Friday, February 14, 2014

100 district schools lack space for kitchen sheds

100 district schools lack space for kitchen sheds

KOLHAPUR: Around 100 schools in the district, both private and those run by the zilla parishad (ZP), are yet to get kitchen sheds- a mandatory facility in all schools according to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009. The school managements cited unavailability of space as the reason behind the norm not being implemented.

The schools are likely to miss the state government's deadline of December 31 to comply with the 10 RTE infrastructural norms. When TOI contacted consultants for the construction firm that is expected to provide the kitchen sheds, they said unavailability of space in the respective schools has left them with no choice but to shift focus to schools with that have space for the sheds. The district has around 2,020 ZP and 200 private schools.

According to project advisor from Wadia Engineering, K Y Patil, who is looking after the construction of around 1,600 kitchen sheds in the district's schools, as many as 1,100 kitchen sheds have been built in the district so far. However, the construction firm has identified around 150 schools with no space for the kitchen sheds.

"Schools in the rural areas, especially those that are privately run, lack space for any kind of construction, let alone kitchen sheds. However, around 50 schools have shown willingness to talk to gram pachayats of the respective villages to allot an alternative space for kitchen sheds. Construction of kitchen sheds in the remaining schools will be completed before December," added Patil.

Kolhapur ZP primary education officer Smita Gaud said the education department has extended the deadline by 30 days for the respective schools to comply with the norm. "We will assess the progress of the construction work in those schools in the first week of December. Schools that do not have space for kitchen sheds should find alternative arrangements with the help of gram panchayats," added Gaud.

The state government had, in September, directed all district education officers to form high-powered committees under the chairmanship of district collectors for effective implementation of the RTE Act. It had set a December 31 deadline to achieve 100% compliance to the Act's norms across the state. The decision was taken after it was found that many schools in the state had not complied with the norms.

State education director Mahavir Mane was unavailable for comments despite several attempts.

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