M A I N   N E W S

RTE Act deadline set for 2-year extension
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, October 23
Far from achieving the goal of infrastructure across elementary school sector in India, the Centre is all set to extend the deadline of the ambitious Right to Education Act by two years.

Top sources in the Ministry of Human Resources Development today confirmed to The Tribune that the original deadline of March 31, 2013 given to schools to create infrastructure required for the delivery of free and compulsory elementary education would have to be extended until March 31, 2015 considering the unpreparedness of states to meet the original goals.

The change would require an amendment to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 that had set the March 31, 2013 deadline for meeting norms such as neighbourhood school where there is none, school building, fencing, toilets, playgrounds, classrooms, drinking water facilities and ramps for differently-abled children.

Nine infrastructure requirements had been listed in the original Act. As of date, less than 10 per cent schools in India have met these requirements. India has 13 lakh elementary level schools.

The Ministry of HRD is now preparing to move an official amendment to the RTE Act to enable the extension of deadline so schools get time to create infrastructure. “We hope to move the amendment in the winter session of Parliament,” Ministry sources said.

Prior to that, the matter will be discussed with state education ministers at the forthcoming meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) on November 1. CABE is the highest policy making body on education in India and is chaired by the HRD Minister.

“At the CABE meeting, we will review RTE achievements and float the issue of extension of deadline. Whether we like it or not, the deadline would have to be extended to allow every school to fall in line. Many states are far behind targets on infrastructure. A lot of time was wasted by states in framing rules. Later on, the 25 pc reservation issue in private schools held up things as the matter remained sub-judice in the Supreme Court,” top Ministry officials said.

The urgency of the amendment arises from the fact that anyone can sue the Government for not providing all the legal infrastructure requirements post the March 31, 2013 deadline. India has close to 8 million out of school children.

“Once the deadline expires, people can move court as a matter of right. An amendment to the law is therefore necessary,” Ministry officials said.

Vinod Raina, educationist and member of CABE reasoned along the same lines, “It has become critical for the Government to amend the law and allow for an extension of deadline. If that’s not done, the Government can be taken to court for violating the primary target of the RTE Act -- provision of schools and basic infrastructure. We certainly overestimated the ability of states to deliver and miscalculated the massive deficits that exist on the infrastructure front. We still have a long way to go.”

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). Once the former deadline is extended, it will get harmonised with the deadline on teacher’s qualifications.

Nothing else will change. The 25 pc reservation in Class 1 which private schools have to give to weaker sections will continue as ordered by the apex court. 

States not ready

The primary target of the RTE Act was provision of schools and basic infrastructure and nine infra requirements were listed in the original Act

Currently, less than 10% schools in India have met these nine requirements

India has 13 lakh elementary level schools and close to 8 million out-of-school children





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