Thousands of private schools in Punjab have refused to get registered with the education department defying the Right To Education Act.
Out of the total 9,800 private schools functioning in Punjab,only about 3,000 have approached the education department showing their willingness to be registered and recognized under the RTE Act.
Majority of the other schools have written to the government that they do not need to get recognised by the education department as they are already affiliated with the Punjab School Education Board.
These schools have to understand that affiliation is different from recognition. A school seeks affiliation of a board as the board is primarily an examining body. But the RTE clearly states that every private school,which intends to teach students beginning from class 1 had to be recognized by the states education department. Moreover,since RTE states that there will be no examination for students till class VIII,it does not matter if the school is affiliated to a board or not. What is more important is that every school has to be recognized and if the school is teaching classes beyond class VIII,it will also be affiliated, said Hussan Lal,principal secretary school education.
Sources said that a large section of the schools which are avoiding being recognized by the education department are doing so as in that case they would have to meet the various norms laid down in the RTE Act.
A large number of unrecognized schools are running from shabby make shift complexes,small buildings and single rooms in villages while the RTE makes it compulsory for the private schools to provide the basis minimum infrastructure. This includes all-weather school buildings,one-classroom-one-teacher,a head teachers office room,library,toilets,drinking water,kitchen sheds,barrier free access,playground,fencing and boundary walls.
Other than infrastructural requirements,these schools also have to ensure one teacher for every 30 students. With most private schools following the teacher pupil ratio of 1:40 to 1: 60,they will have to employ many more teachers to comply with the provisions of the RTE Act.
In addition teachers to be employed under the RTE Act can be recruited only after they clear the requisite teachers eligibility test conducted by the state government.
Every school,which is registered by the education department will be inspected by a team to access the compliance of these norms. The inspection process of the 3,000 schools,which have filled and sent the self declaration forms will begin shortly. For the rest of the schools we are yet to take a decision, added Hussan Lal.
The secretary added that the Act provides for strict punitive action against private schools in case they continue to teach students without seeking recognition. The Act provides for closure of such schools and an immediate fine if Rs 1 lakh. Such schools would,however,be given some time before they can comply with the Act within a stipulated time failing which they would be fined at the rate of Rs 10,000 a day for each day of non-compliance beyond the stipulated date, said Hussan Lal.