Protests happened at Vidhan Sabha against the closure of bps, as they failed in meeting the criteria stated under RTE

The Indian Express
News Dated: 
26-Mar-2013

As the deadline for closure of schools that do not meet specific guidelines under the Right To Education Act, 2009, drew near, hundreds of schools managers, teachers and parents of students of unrecognised schools located in rehabilitated colonies, slums and the walled city gathered at Delhi Vidhan Sabha to protest. The agitation was led by Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel.

The protests came even after the government relaxed certain norms for the recognition of unrecognised, budget private schools that run in small areas and demand a minimal fee.

On March 22, the Directorate of Education had issued a circular stating that there are a number of unrecognised schools functioning without the certificate of recognition and had failed to conform to the norms and standards specified in the schedule to the RTE Act, but "with a view to save the interest of thousands of children studying in these schools, procedure for recognition has been simplified".

Thus for all unrecognised schools running in unauthorised or undeveloped or regularised colonies, which had classes till the elementary level, space area norms had been relaxed from 800 square metres to 200 square yards for primary schools and from 1000 square metres to 700 square metres for middle schools.

R C Jain, chairman, Delhi State Private Schools' Association, the body represents the budget private schools, said, "Though the government's decision of March 22 has brought relief to about 1,600 of the approximately 2,400 schools in the capital, there are schools that have no scope of expansion and if closed will displace about 1.25 lakh students."

As per section 18(5) of the RTE, there is an obligation on schools to take recognition within 3 years of the implementation of RTE Act. The schools which are not able to get recognition are liable for a one time penalty of Rs 1 lakh and Rs 10,000 per day fine.

Vijay Goel, who protested along with the schools managers outside the Vidhan Sabha said, "These schools are situated in slums, jhuggis, rehabilitated and unauthorised colonies, where sufficient land and schools are not available. Therefore, it is impossible to meet the requirement of even 200 square yards of land for a primary school."

Speaking at the Idea Exchange programme of The Indian Express, earlier this year, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had said that schools would not be shut down even if they did not meet the requirements of the Right To Education Act.

Lakshya Chhabaria, general secretary of Delhi State Private Schools' Association, said that closure will leave students from the weaker sections of society "in limbo and deprive them of their right to education". He also said that the problem at the time of nursery admission shows that Delhi doesn't have sufficient schools and that there is a gap between supply and demand.

'Norms can't be relaxed more'

Delhi Education Minister Kiran Walia has said that the government has provided "maximum relaxation" to schools that do not meet norms under the RTE Act and there is no way that the norms can be relaxed any further.

"There are certain requirements of per child space that are mandatory under the RTE Act and we cannot reduce that," Walia told Newsline in response to questions about the protest held at Vidhan Sabha against the closure of such schools.

While the Delhi State Private School's Association claims that there are roughly 800 schools still facing closure, the minister said that according to the estimates of the Directorate of Education, the figure is between 30 to 40 schools.

"The government will ensure that all such students are accommodated in neighbouring schools," she said.