Schools in Pune, especially the private aided and unaided, are yet to become disabled-friendly, according to the statistical information received from the primary education department. While 600 of the total 1,210 private aided schools don’t have ramp facilities, at least 617 of the 1,236 unaided schools do not have ramps, data for the academic year 2013-14 indicates. The condition is worse in unrecognised schools, with 54 of 98 schools without ramps.
Like last year, government schools fare well — of 4,353 government schools, 3,748 Zilla Parishad schools and 481 civic schools, only 306, 234 and 21 schools respectively don’t have ramps. Ramps are one of the 10 parameters under Right to Education (RTE) Act that schools should fulfil. Others are building, headmaster room, one classroom for every teacher, boys toilet, girls toilet, water facilities, kitchen shed, boundary wall and playground.
The number of unrecognised schools in the city has come down to 98 this academic year from last year’s 120, but still the number is highest in the state. Data shows that 266 schools in the district do not have electricity connection.
The government is spending crores of rupees on buying computers for schools, many of which still don’t have electricity. Even with inverters or generators, many school children — especially in the rural areas — are away from the benefits of computer, said educational activist Nilesh Borate.
The HRD ministry had set a deadline of March 31 last year for schools in all states to upgrade their infrastructure in accordance with the RTE provisions. However, Maharashtra had missed the deadline. Another problem in Pune, as per the figures available, is the lack of playgrounds. As many as 621 schools do not comply with the playground specification mentioned under RTE.
One-classroom-for-every-teacher is yet another criteria in which 1,095 schools in the district lag behind. However, the criteria of kitchen shed is the least complied with by schools — 4,331 of the total 6,897 schools with no sheds. “A lot of funds come under RTE, but the implementation is poor. If they have a list of unrecognised schools, how come they have not taken any action against them? There is a general apathy among officials in implementing policies related to RTE,” Borate added. Despite repeated attempts, Director of Primary Education Mahavir Mane was unavailable for comment.