The Government Kannada and Tamil Model Primary School in Cleveland here has 461 students who come from the adjoining neighbourhoods. The school has 22 classrooms, 13 teachers, 22 toilets, three ramps and a huge sprawling playground. With the help of the funds mobilised by non-governmental organisations, it has also been able to develop a computer lab and a library that has hundreds of books with a variety of topics.

A worried man

This is probably one of the few schools in the city that has complied with all norms laid down as per the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Yet, headmaster K. Krishnappa is a worried man.

Thanks to section 12 (1) (c) of the RTE Act that guarantees underprivileged children 25 per cent of seats in private unaided schools, he is afraid parents in the locality might approach private schools that probably don’t even have half the facilities his school has.

Mr. Krishnappa said: “Several parents I have spoken to proudly say they would send their children to private schools.”

Section 12 (1) (c) is damaging the image of government schools, he sighed.

Apart from that educationists point out that the government has spent a large amount of money on reimbursements to private unaided schools.

In Bangalore, 5,866 students were admitted under the RTE quota last year (2012-13) and the government reimbursed Rs. 4,40,31,376 towards their tuition fee. The figure for the State is Rs. 21,24,96,087 for 49,259 seats.

Decent infrastructure

In terms of infrastructure and teacher pupil ratio, government schools appear to be well placed in the State. As per the District Information System for Education (DISE) 2010-2011 study for eight indicators, around 98.66 per cent of the elementary schools across the Karnataka have libraries, 99.55 per cent drinking water facility and 98.81 per cent toilets for girls.

However, the study found Karnataka to be lagging behind in some of the indicators such as ramps (for children with disabilities) and playgrounds. As per the DISE report, only 78.27 per cent of the elementary schools reportedly have ramps and only 54.34 per cent of them have playgrounds. The DISE data also reveals that only 69.21 per cent of them had compound wall.

V.P. Niranjan Aradhya, fellow at the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University (NLSIU), pointed out that there is a need to oppose all forms of privatisation, commercialisation and public-private partnership in schooling. “There is a need to save, strengthen and transform government schools into common neighbourhood schools,” he said.