The fate of many private schools in the capital hangs in the balance. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had set a three-year deadline for schools,asking them to meet the infrastructural requirements specified under the Right To Education Act,expired on Sunday.
The bone of contention is the area requirement under the RTE Act,which is 800 sqm for primary schools and 1,000 sqm for middle schools. Last week,the Delhi government significantly reduced the minimum area criterion to 200 sqm for primary schools and 700 sqm for middle schools.
The government relaxed norms after a protest by school managements outside Vidhan Sabha on March 25.
Despite this move,the Delhi State Private Schools Association (DSPSA) claims that at least 700 schools in the city are on the brink of closure due to this criterion.
DSPSA is a conglomerate of budget private schools in the city. These schools say they are not in a position to expand facilities because they charge a nominal fee.
NGO Right To Education Forum,which conducts an annual survey of the progress of the RTE movement in the country,says: Although the government has made efforts to meet RTE norms,significant shortcomings remain. There are concerns,specifically,with regard to access,infrastructure,quality and lack of effective community participation.
Speaking to Newsline,Director Education Amit Singla said: By order of the Education Minister Kiran Walia,nearly 1,000 schools were exempted from this deadline as all pre-primary schools have now been kept out of the ambit of the Right To Education Act. In the past week,nearly 1,200 schools have applied for provisional recognition and will be recognised by the DoE till Tuesday.
Singla said: Technically,the deadline has ended but we do not want to close down schools. Therefore,schools should apply for recognition.
However,schools said there was no clarity regarding the fate of schools that fail to meet the revised 200 sqm requirement. DSPSA chairman R C Jain said: At least 700 schools that will not be able to meet the relaxed area requirement.
The figure is contested by the DoE,which said there are not more then 30 to 40 schools that may eventually have to close down.
According to Education Minister Kiran Walia,the governments plan is to transfer students from these schools to government schools in the neighbourhood. However,the government is yet to chalk out a strategy to undertake this transfer.