Schools ignore RTE norms with impunity

A large number of schools are yet to put in place basic infrastructure prescribed under the Right to Education Act (RTE) even as the March 31 deadline set for them is fast approaching.

The annual status of education report (ASER), released by Pratham, a non-government organisation recently for the year 2012, revealed this sad truth.

The report indicated that the lack of teachers in schools continue in almost all the states. The prescribed teacher-pupil ratio of 1:30 has still not been implemented in more than half the schools (57.2 per cent) in 567 rural districts of the country, although figures indicate a marginal improvement over the last three years.

The situation is worse in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Orissa and West Bengal, where the percentage of schools fulfilling the prescribed teacher-pupil ratio was just 8.5, 15, 15.6, 23.2, 28 and 33.2 respectively.

In Karnataka, the prescribed ratio of teacher-students has still not been achieved in 33.1 per cent schools in rural areas, according to the report.

The RTE Act stipulates construction of playground, but the survey found it missing in 38.9 per cent schools. Over 54 per cent schools were also found without boundary wall or fencing, construction of which have been prescribed under the law.

Children of over 16 per cent elementary schools still do not have drinking water facility. Such facilities are available in 83 per cent schools but they are lying unused in over 10 per cent schools due to non-availability of drinking water.

Over 56 per cent schools have constructed toilets for children. Such facility has been created in another 35.1 per cent schools but they are not usable, according to the report.

Toilets have been constructed for girl students in 78.7 per cent schools but the survey observed that 16.4 per cent of them were not usable while another 14.1 per cent were just kept locked.

The library facility has been created in 76 per cent schools in rural areas but students have access to this facility in only 43.9 per cent schools. Students were not found to be using the school library in rest of the schools, the report indicates.

According to sources, the Human Resource Development Ministry is aware that many states are lagging in providing the basic school infrastructure under the RTE Act but does not want to extend the deadline.

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