Wednesday, 8 May 2013

150 schools face shutdown as they can’t comply with RTE

By Pandurang Mhaske, Mumbai Mirror | May 7, 2013, 02.24 AM IST



According to data available with the education department, 76 schools in the western suburbs, 64 in eastern suburbs and 12 in South Mumbai await BMC approval



The BMC has refused to approve extension of classes for over 150 private schools in the city, as these schools were unable to comply with the stringent norms of the Right to Education Act (RTE). If they cannot comply with these norms, there is a chance that these schools could shut down next academic year. The BMC, however, has approached the state government to relax these norms, as some of them cannot be implied by several schools.

According to the RTE norms, the school building must have a boundary wall, a playground and access to the school must be barrier-free. Also, the school must have sports equipment for each class.

These norms have become a bane for school trustees. Mohammad Anis Siddiqie, a trustee of Rose Mary School in Malvani said the RTE norms are hard to comply. "The state government needs to relax these norms for the schools," he said.

Like Siddiqie, Layju Joseph, a trustee of Daya Sagar School in Malad also asked for the RTE rules to be relaxed. "We have been running our school for over 20 years. It is difficult to comply with these norms, as there is no open space available," he said.

The trustees then approached local corporator Cyril D'Souza, who took the issue up with the education committee chairman Manoj Kotak.

During the meeting, D'Souza said there were several schools that could not follow the norms issued by the RTE. "We understand that playgrounds are necessary in schools, but it is difficult in a city like Mumbai to get an open space for playgrounds," he said. Many schools also operate out of residential buildings. "In such cases, it becomes impossible to have a boundary wall," said D'Souza, adding that with roads and footpaths being taken over by hawkers, it becomes all the more difficult for schools to have boundary walls.

Kotak, too, agreed with D'Souza's points, adding that every ward has such schools. "It becomes difficult to fulfill these norms in Mumbai due to the lack of space. We are now planning to approach the state government to relax these norms, otherwise the schools will shut down next year," said Kotak.

Currently, Mumbai has several private schools, which are recognised by the BMC. Until last year, these schools would receive a grant from the state government through the civic body.

While the schools were state-recognised, they needed approval to expand with respect to the number of sections. Many schools had expanded their secondary section by one class every year with BMC approval. However, this year, the permissions were denied by the civic body, citing the RTE norms.

According to data available with the education department, there are 76 schools in the western suburbs, 64 schools in the eastern suburbs and 12 schools in South Mumbai awaiting BMC approval. Malad has the most number of schools with 31 schools.


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