NGOs plan to move court against RTE violation

After all states fail to meet the RTE deadline, HRD minister says people free to knock on court’s door

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | April 3, 2013



Union human resource development minister MM Pallam Raju has ruled out any extension of the March 31st deadline to states, which failed to create the necessary infrastructure to implement the Right to Education (RTE) Act, even after three years of its enactment.

Speaking at the 61st Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) committee meeting on Tuesday, Raju said there is a need to punish states that have not done enough in three years. He also said people are free to move courts.

The RTE Act, which came into force on April 1, 2010, gave three years to schools to comply with its norms of having sufficient number of teachers, proper classrooms, toilets and supply of drinking water.

But it has been three years and no state has met the deadline. Will be there be a spate of court cases in the next few months from parents and other stakeholders against non-compliance by schools?

Vinod Raina, member of the CABE committee says RTE is a justiciable Act and people are free to go to courts against the central and state governments. “In any country when there is a violation of the Act, judiciary steps in. And it’s not the end of the road; people can approach court against any violation of the RTE Act.”

The RTE Forum, a combined strength of 10,000 NGOs from all over India, released the national stocktaking report on Wednesday on implementation of the RTE Act. It highlighted huge gaps in the crucial indicators of the RTE Act.

According to the report, 5 percent of schools in the country still run out of single-classroom buildings. At present, nearly 40 percent schools on an average do not have playgrounds.

The study shows that there is a lot to be done to improve the scenario in many states, including Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Also, two thirds of India’s children study in schools that fail to adhere to the minimum RTE norms, while 12 lakh teachers’ positions remain vacant.

Apart from that five lakh teachers already in jobs require training. This definitely is a huge target to meet.

Ambrish Rai, convener of Right to Education Forum, also says the Act is justiciable and is derived from the constitutional right, and anyone can approach court against violation. “The government needs to fulfil all norms in their schools before taking action against private schools,” he adds.

Anjela Taneja from Oxfam India says that there would be no difference between policy and scheme if no action is taken. “RTE is a law unlike other schemes and every law has a timeline. What we required is a roadmap and we have to explore all the options, courts are one of the options. People have already started approaching the court. But we cannot blame states entirely because centre is equally responsible,” Taneja says.

Shantanu Gupta from Centre for Civil Society says, “There are less than 10 percent government schools which are RTE compliant, but there is no provision in law to take action against government schools. Whereas the Act does have a provision of fine against the private schools not meeting the RTE norms. So parents and NGOs would definitely approach the courts against any violation happening after March 31.”

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