Most states to miss RTE deadline, but extension unlikely

Most states to miss RTE deadline, but extension unlikely

Government today ruled out extending the deadline beyond March 31 for schools to meet RTE requirements even as it conceded that many states were lagging behind and said a committee is being set up to expedite the implementation process.

HRD Minister M M Pallam Raju was evasive when asked about the fate of the schools who fail to meet the Right to Education Act requirements like infrastructure after March 31, saying they would ensure the requirements are complied with in the "shortest possible time".

"The deadline is the objective. It is apparent that most states are going to miss it, but that does not mean we will leave the objective. We will constitute a committee to show seriousness of the implementation," he told reporters here.

Schools face the prospects of closing down under the Act if they are not RTE compliant after March 31. The government also faces the threat of being challenged in court by stakeholders in the event of non-compliance.

"As long as state govt shows it seriousness... if some parents want to be litigant, we cannot stop them. But as far as I can say, we all are serious," he said.

He said the Central Advisory Board of Education, in its meeting last November, had also unanimously resolved not to extend the deadline, arguing that any move in this regard would dilute the Act that seeks to provide free and compulsory education to students.

He said government will "push those" schools who are lagging behind even as Ministry officials maintained that there are some states who have attained over 90 per cent achievement in meeting the requirements.

The RTE Act had set two deadlines -- until March 31, 2013 for infrastructure and March 31, 2015 for teachers to attain minimum qualifications (pass Teachers’ Eligibility Test).

Asked about the proposed committee, the Minister said it will do a follow-up to ensure that the deadline for meeting teacher requirement under the Act by March 2015 is met.

Meanwhile, 13 states have asked the Ministry to relax the norms as far as minimum qualification goes to ensure speedy compliance with RTE norms. They are Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Bihar, Chattishgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.