As the March 31 deadline for compliance with the Right to Education Act approaches,several states have sought an extension. Whereas in Maharashtra,officials claim about 80 per cent of schools has complied with RTE norms.
Unfortunately,the ground reality may be far from what these officials would want to project. The latest District Information System for Education (DISE) shows how.
About 80 to 90 percent of the schools pass all the 10 essential criteria set by the RTE Act, said a said senior official of the state education department,quickly adding,March 31 is the deadline and the matter is sub-judice. So we will able to give further details only by
The infrastructural indicators that need to be passed by schools as given by the RTE are building,office-cum-head masters room,one classroom for every teacher,ramp for disabled students,separate toilets for boys and girls,drinking water facilities,kitchen shed,boundary wall and playground.
But the latest data,which took into account all the 35 districts of Maharashtra,presents a poor picture. The provisional statistical data of DISE 2011-12 report states that only 59.05 per cent of the total schools in the state have a boundary wall. Only 29.24 per cent schools had kitchen sheds,while only 63.35 per cent had a playground, in the state.
Further statistics can only act as a more of a spirit dampener and cast aspersions on the states claims.
As per the DISE data,64.96 per cent schools had ramps for the disabled,and 78.15 per cent primary schools had these ramps.
Ironically,even when it comes to drinking water facility,the state has not been able to ensure 100 per cent compliance. Children of 94.23 per cent of the total number of schools get drinking water. Of the total number of primary schools in the state 91.48 per cent has the facility.
The report shows that 92.97 per cent of the schools have functional boys toilet and 93.40 schools have functional girls toilet.
When asked,however,officials are quick to provide information on budgetary allocations. Budgetary allocation for 45,000 kitchen sheds have been made. Of this,10,000 are ready in various schools in the state. Others will soon be ready, said Mahavir Mane,state director of Primary Education.
When asked about lack of space leading to vertical schools and non-availability of playgrounds in schools in urban areas,another official said,Lack of space is a big issue today. So,many schools do not have play grounds in Pune and Mumbai. But many schools are trying to cope with this fault by taking various corporation and other grounds on lease on a yearly basis. But activists insist that statistics projected by the education department are not correct.
The official statement that 80 per cent of schools complied with RTE is untrue. Even reputed schools do not have functional toilets and drinking water facilities. Obviously the state of government schools will be worse. The department asked the schools to provide them with data and the schools must have provided with incorrect ones. It is quite possible that the officials did not even cross-check information provided to them. The poor state of schools is an old story and nothing has been done by the government officials to improve the situation, said Matin Mujawar,president,Shikshan Hakka Manch.