There is a shortage of private middle level schools in the national capital due to large land requirement for recognition, affecting the implementation of right to education, a committee representing private unaided schools has told Delhi High Court.
The Coordination Committee of Public Schools told the High Court that as per a March 22, 2013 circular of the Delhi government, while primary schools, running classes I to V, are required to have an area of 200 square yards, middle level schools, having classes upto VIII, need to have 837 square yards of land to get recognised.
It contended before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal that this recognition norm was leading to a ‘deficit of 35,000 seats after class V’ and asked how the right to education could be complied with as many students allegedly drop out after class V due to lack of seats.
Delhi government defended its decision, saying that children in classes VI to VIII were growing kids who need more space. That is why middle level schools are required to have a larger area, it said.
Additional standing counsel of Delhi government Santosh Tripathi told the bench that the policy decision was taken on the basis of expert opinion to also prevent commercialisation of education.
After hearing arguments of both sides, the bench reserved its verdict on the committee’s appeal against a single judge order refusing to interfere with the circular on the ground that it was a policy decision.
In its appeal, the committee has contended that “imposing disproportionately higher land area norm for adding three more class rooms is obnoxiously deterrent and causes artificial scarcity of private middle level school seats.”
It also contended that the Right to Education Act 2009 treats primary and middle level schools alike and therefore, requirement of larger area for middle level schools was “unconstitutional for being excessively deterrent, unreasonable, arbitrary and detrimental to public interest”.
It alleged that the circular affects schools located in unauthorised colonies only as it is difficult to find land and expand institutions in such areas because they are densely populated.
The committee has further contended that private unaided schools in such areas were “low budget”, as they charged less than what government spends per child in its school and still provide better quality education.
It has said that more seats would be added if private unaided primary level schools are allowed to run middle level classes (VI-VIII) in the second shift.