March 2013 deadline on RTE school infra stays

The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) has decided not to extend the deadline for completion of school infrastructure under Right to Education (RTE) Act beyond March 31, 2013, putting the lagging states under pressure.

The highest advisory body on education took a tough stand even as some of lagging states like Bihar have expressed their helplessness in achieving RTE standards for school infrastructure till March 31 next year.

“We have decided to stick to the deadline,” Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister M M Pallam Raju said after the meeting concluded late here on Thursday.

The CABE took the view that “redoubled efforts” should be made by states and union territories to achieve RTE standards for school infrastructure in 2012-13 as over 12,000 new schools remain to be opened.

Over 2,50,000 additional classrooms, a large number of toilets, drinking water facilities and ramps are under construction under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and other national programmes for sanitation and drinking water supply, the minister said.

The Act specifies a three-year time frame for all existing schools to meet several parameters stipulated under the law. According to the Act, non-compliance would lead to revocation of the school’s recognition and subsequent closure. Any change in the deadline, which expires on March 31, 2013, will require an amendment to the law.

Many states which are lagging in meeting the school infrastructure standards under the Act had been putting pressure on the HRD Ministry extend the deadline. At the CABE meeting, Bihar Education Minister P K Shahi categorically said it was not possible for the state government to meet the deadline, citing various reasons including financial constraints.

“Once the deadline is over, it will give people right to file writ of mandamus. As I understand many states are not in a position to meet the deadline, it will create a difficult situation for them. Thousands of cases will be filed under the Act. Officials, instead of concentrating on the implementation of the RTE Act, would then be forced to be engaged in looking after those litigations,” he pointed out.

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