The State Education Department has launched a clampdown on errant schools, so as to ensure compliance under the Right to Education Act. But is it too late in the day?
Notices have been served to a total of 176 unrecognised schools in Ranga Reddy district, asking them to close down immediately. A penalty of Rs.1 lakh will be collected from these schools, and in case of default, they would be seized, and legal action initiated against them.
Most unrecognised schools in the district are from urban mandals, pointing to the lack of government schools here. Quthbullahpur mandal has the maximum number of unrecognised schools (34), with Rajendranagar (21) at second place.
Private schools in the State found selling school bags and shoes to their students will be in for trouble, with the State government imposing a ban on such commercial activities.
The Education Department will conduct raids on schools suspected to be indulging in the practice.
“We have received instructions from the State Project Director, Rajiv Vidya Mission, to conduct raids on schools indulging in commercial activities; such practices are against the Right to Education (RTE) Act. If we find any school engaging in such activities, we shall serve notices, and derecognise them,” warned M. Somi Reddy, District Educational Officer, Ranga Reddy district.
Action will be taken also against schools conducting screening tests for admission and those charging capitation fees, Mr. Reddy said. A toll-free number (1800-425-3525) has also been set up to take complaints on schools indulging in arbitrary fee hikes and screening tests.
Even the school fee is now under the scanner, with many schools resorting to arbitrary hikes every year, which far exceeds their operational expenditure.
Instructions to the DEOs by the SPD, RVM, outlined expenses which may be factored into the school fee. These include salaries, rent, electricity and water charges, purchase of books, stationery, chemicals and specimens for labs, payments towards auditors’ fee and education cess.
The school must maintain separate accounts for various heads, and submit itself to inspection and auditing by an auditor appointed by the governing body. Submission of annual administration report, along with audit statement, is mandatory.
However, it is noteworthy that most private, unaided schools completed their admission process during November-December of the previous year itself, when the Education Department was rather laidback in implementing the RTE.
The DEOs were required to begin the process of ensuring compliance with RTE Act much before, and submit a report to the RVM by January 30. However, no such exercise has been taken up so far.