Delhi goes easy on RTE land norms for schools

Now, unrecognised private schools may function with significantly lesser space than that was stipulated

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | March 29, 2013



Unrecognised private schools in the national capital seem to have finally caught a break from the stringent norms on space that are a part of enforcing the right to education (RTE).

Recognition from any municipal, state or central education board hinges on the schools adhering to strictures of the RTE Act on minimum space including classroom space and playground. With the RTE Act mandating the closure of all unrecognised schools that don't meet its guidelines by March 31, 2013, the Delhi government's decision to lower the bar for space comes as a reprieve to many.

These schools have remained unrecognised so far because of failure to comply with many standards set by the state government, only one of which was land requirement. The threshold for space for a school had been earlier set at 800 sq m in the Delhi Master Plan 2021. 

But now, with the relaxed norms, unrecognised primary schools can make do with 200 sq m of space instead of the mandated 800 sq m and middle schools can function out of 700 sq m of space instead of the 1,000 sq m as per the RTE guidelines.

According to the RTE guidelines, no school, other than the ones established, ownedd or controlled by a government will be allowed to be established or function (if established before the Act came into force) without a government recognition. The Act had mandated that such schools should get government approval by meeting the minimum standards on infrastructure and teaching staff.

One of the other conditions set was that schools had to match their teachers' salaries with that paid to government school teachers.

The Act, which came into force on April 1, 2010, gave three years to such schools to get recognition from the government. With the period ending on March 31, 2013, any school which has failed to comply by then will be fined Rs 10,000 a day.

Before the enforcement of the RTE Act, unrecognised schools till class VIII could be run and they could get recognition while operating.

The unrecognised schools, which may not have adequate infrastructure and resources, teach lakhs of children across the country.

More than three lakh such 'budget schools' operate in the country. In Delhi alone, around four lakh students are estimated to be studying in 2,235 such schools, out of the total 7,469 schools in the national capital.

Only a few of the unrecognised schools charge high fees and meet most infrastructure norms but most are low fee-charging schools operated from homes. They are affordable mainly because they lack the expensive infrastructure and qualified teachers mandated by the government rules.

Parents from the low-income groups have increasingly switched their children from free government schools to fee-paying private ones. 

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