Even half a decade after the introduction of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in the state, the rules and regulations related to it are far from being implemented. According to the data provided by District Information of School Education (DISE), only 701 of the 3,916 schools in the city are following the ten basic infrastructural norms.
As per the RTE norms each school must have a separate playground, however, only a meagre 282 schools have a playground for its students. Pic for representation
“Time and again, we have informed schools that they have to follow the regulations. Last year, we even extended the deadline for them to incorporate the changes, but only a few are following them,” said a senior official from Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, adding that they have also sent notices to schools, but changes are being implemented at a snail’s pace.
According to DISE, about 70 per cent of schools do not have separate classrooms for every standard. While the RTE specifies that every school should have a boundary wall, 182 schools in the city do not have this facility and 282 don’t have a playground. While the education department has shifted the onus on to the schools, many schools are in turn blaming the government for lack of funds.
“Schools have received non-salary grants from 2006 and the fees paid by students barely helps us run the schools. For infrastructural changes, they need to give funds for us to implement them,” said Ramakant Pandey, principal of Bansidhar Agarwal School in Wadala. He added that time and again, schools have approached the education department to discuss lack of funds, but have not received any positive response yet.
No norms, no pay
To make matters worse, schools have been denied the annual reimbursement for providing free education to students under RTE Act’s 25 per cent reservation quota, claiming that since they have not fulfilled the requisite infrastructural criteria, they will not be provided the reimbursement. Schools that lack playground space have also agreed to pay rent to BMC grounds close to the school.
“Getting nominal permission from departments becomes such a difficult task sometimes, that we have given up. It is impossible to buy space now, with the sky-high cost of land in the city,” said Fr George Athaide, principal of St Michael’s School in Mahim.
Many old schools have also shared their plight with the education department about the improbability of initiating infrastructural changes in their school’s buildings. “Our building is quite old and making any changes to the infrastructure will be next to impossible. We have brought this to the notice of the authorities, but they have chosen to ignore it,” claimed a principal of a state board school in Fort.
Total number of schools in Mumbai
Schools following all infrastructural norms
Schools with no ramps for disabled students
Schools with no separate classrooms for every standard
Schools without a kitchen shed
Schools without a separate girls’ toilet
Schools without boundary wall
Schools without playground
Schools in Maharashtra
Number of schools in Maharashtra following all infrastructural norms