Thursday, December 25, 2014

Flouting RTE could mean fine or school’s affiliation cancelled

Right To Education Act will finally get a toehold in Gujarat. After being pulled up by the Gujarat high court earlier this year, the Gujarat government recently cleared a government resolution (GR) that will make flouting RTE norms a "costly mistake" for school administrations across the state.

The GR, a copy of which is specifies that schools caught violating RTE will be penalized with a penalty of Rs 10,000 for the first mistake and Rs 25,000 for the next. Any school that caught flouting RTE norms five times will have their affiliation cancelled.

Schools found employing unqualified teachers will also be punished. This is the first time teaching standards in schools of Gujarat are being put under the scanner. A source in the state education department said: "At least 35% of schoolteachers in Gujarat do not conform to the educational qualification criteria. Now that the RTE will be enforced by district education officers (DEO) and district primary education officers (DPEO) cutting corners in academic standards will become very difficult."

The RTE Act specifies that 25% of the school's seats in standard I should be allotted to underprivileged children. Till date, schools flouted norms with impunity as the state government played silent witness.

Gujarat was lagging in RTE implementation till last year. In 2013, the state government claimed that 18,000 underprivileged children were granted admission to various schools but this was far below the stipulated 25% of seats reserved for RTE in standard I.

"Now if any CBSE, ICSE or other board schools are caught ignoring RTE, their NOC for operation will be cancelled by the state government and we shall also intimate the concerned board, recommending that the school's affiliation be cancelled," said a state education department official.

Top officials of the state government held a video conference with various DEOs and DPEOs for strict implementation of RTE. The education department officials in turn ascertained the number of seats in standard I at more than 15,000 private schools in Gujarat. "We now have a good idea how many seats need to be reserved for RTE by each school and we shall ensure that there is cent per cent adherence to the norms," said a DEO.

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