Insistence of the government on compliance with various regulations can deal a deadly blow to these schools

The future of thousands of ‘street corner’ schools, which have been contributing to the promotion of literacy, hangs in the balance even as the government is gearing up for the ensuing ‘Vidya Sambaralu’ with the objective of enrolling dropouts.

The insistence of the government on compliance with various regulations can deal a deadly blow to these schools. Most of these schools are run in single, two and three-storied rented buildings and the managements cannot afford shelling out thousands of rupees on obtaining NOCs (No Objection Certificates).

Enviable performance

These neighbourhood schools have shaped the careers of many poor children. A petty vegetable vendor’s son, who completed his SSC from Sri Mukha School, a street corner school at Punjab Hotel junction beside the Marripalem National Highway, came out with flying colours in the recent Intermediate Public Examination. He gave full credit to his school for grooming him.

A washerwoman’s son studying in Sri Santhi Niketan School in the same area passed out with good marks in the recent SSC examination. Most of the poor parents have realised the value of education and are working overtime to pay a few hundred rupees as monthly fee at these budget schools.

“There are over 40,000 private schools, which cater to the needs of about 1 crore students and provide employment to 8 lakh educated youths in the State. Some of these schools are being run for the last several decades in remote corners without any assistance from the government,” says State president of the AP Private Schools Association KSN Murthy.

Unjustified demand

“Schools having a strength of less than 150 students should be spared from obtaining recognition as was being done in Kerala for classes I to V. Asking them to pay large amounts of money towards NOCs, is unjustified,” says Mr. Murthy.

“Schools have to comply with the fire safety norms irrespective of the building height. The fee for issuance of NOC by the Fire Department ranges from Rs.500 to Rs.10,000 a year and the annual renewal fee is Rs.500. They also have to get NOCs from Engineering Department for the structural soundness of the building, from the Police (Traffic) and from the Sanitary Department,” says District Education Officer K. Krishnaveni.

“Only when the schools comply with all these provisions, they would be granted recognition failing which action will be initiated against them,” she says.

The decision of the government not to allow continuation of these schools, which do not comply with the regulations, will result in the closure a majority of these small schools, adding to the number of dropouts.