The renewal of recognition of over 700 matriculation schools in the State is pending for want of land

The renewal of recognition for more than 40 per cent of matriculation schools in the city will hinge on the recommendations of an expert committee set up by the State government to recommend minimum land requirements for private schools.

The report will be submitted in a fortnight. According to officials, the renewal of recognition of over 700 matriculation schools in the State is pending for want of land and the committee’s recommendations will be crucial for these schools.

Not enough land

In the city, where the minimum land requirement is 6 grounds for schools falling within Corporation limits, 144 of the 323 schools are awaiting renewal, according to officials in the directorate of matriculation schools.

While existing land norms are based on the location of the school, the recommendations of the committee headed by the director of school education is expected to take into account the nature of the school and the number of students, according to a government order in March.

An official, who is part of the seven-member committee, said they were in the final leg of finalising the report.

Existing norms

As per existing norms, a school in the Corporation limits must have 6 grounds composite land, those in the district headquarters must have 8 grounds composite land, municipality – 10 grounds composite land, township – 1 acre composite land, and rural areas – 3 acres composite land.

Public consultations with private schools were held in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchy and Madurai earlier this year.

“It is difficult for existing schools, especially in cities, to buy additional land, because of lack of availability of land around the school as well as the cost,” K.R. Nandakumar, secretary, Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary and Matriculation Schools Association, said. “We are asking that existing schools be exempted, and the norms be applicable to new schools.”

Orders issued for 500 schools

According to an official from the directorate of matriculation schools, they have issued orders for around 500 schools, whose renewal of recognition was pending for reasons other than minimum land requirements in the past two months.

“We took into account availability of furniture with back rest, compound wall, drinking water, number of sections in each class, requisite amount of toilets and a number of other factors before renewing the recognition,” an official from the directorate said, adding, “We have sped up the process of renewal and will put up an updated list on the website soon.”

After the Kumbakonam fire accident in a school in 2004, the directorate has only been granting temporary recognition, which has to be renewed once in three years, to schools.

The enactment of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Act, 2009, brought in additional norms relating to student-pupil ratio, classroom dimensions and infrastructure among other aspects. The three-year deadline to comply with RTE norms ended in March this year.