Deciding to take a stringent action against playschools and primary schools running pre-primary classes, admitting children below the age of three years, the Gujarat Education Department on Tuesday passed a Government Resolution (GR) to impose a fine of Rs 1 lakh and withdrawal of recognition at the first and second instance, respectively.
The decision came a few days after the Gujarat High Court strongly objected to this practice among playschools, including private primary schools. The HC had also questioned the state Education Department on what actions had been taken against such institutes.
“Realising the state does not have any provision to penalise such institutes that admit children below the prescribed age limit of three years, as is clearly stated in the rule 8 of Right to Education Act notified by the state as Gujarat RTE rules 2012, it was decided that some strict action needs to be taken against this violation,” said a senior official at the Education Department.
As per the GR, if a primary school is run by an organisation and admits a child below three years of age, the fine imposed at the first instance would be Rs 1 lakh. At the second instance, the school’s recognition will be withdrawn. Similarly, in case of a playschool run by a management committee or any individual, flouting of this rule will result in a fine of Rs 1 lakh at the first instance and Rs 5 lakh at the second instance.
Rule 8 of Gujarat RTE rules state, “No pre-school shall admit a child who has not completed three years of age as on June 1 of the year. The extended period of admission shall be six months from the date of commencement of the academic year of the school.” Also, it states that no school shall take donations for admission or shall take interview of parents or take test of children.
Recently, the state Education Department had also notified penalties for private schools flouting RTE Act rules, though the amount of fine ranged only from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 for first and second violation, respectively. It had suggested the withdrawal of school recognition in extreme cases. These penalties were strongly questioned by educationists and non-government organisations.