‘Do not extend deadline for completion of school infrastructure’

Why should providing schools with adequate infrastructure within three years to accommodate all children be difficult in a country that has been able to achieve extraordinary things when it comes to building flyovers, airports, Grand Prix circuit or conducting international games?

Several eminent academics and activists from across India have posed this question to Pallam Raju, Union Minister for Human Resource Development, while appealing to him not to concede the demand for extending the March 31, 2013, deadline for completion of school infrastructure as mandated by the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009. The Act came into force on April 1, 2010.

Representation

A representation endorsed by many, including scientist Yash Pal, the former Foreign Secretary Muchkund Dubey, member of the National Advisory Council Aruna Roy, Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Harsh Mander of the Centre for Equity Studies and Teesta Setelvad of the Citizens for Justice and Peace, says that any delay in fully implementing the legislation will particularly affect children from the deprived sections.

Three-year deadline

The legislation set a deadline of three years for all the States to prepare for its implementation. However, several States have asked for a two-year extension to provide adequate schools, classrooms, water and sanitation facilities, teachers, teaching-learning material and so on as mandated by the legislation.

“Though the Minister said after the last Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) meeting on November 8 that there will be no extension, the demand is expected to be reviewed again during the next meeting,” said V.P. Niranjan Aradhya from the National Law School of India University, one of the signatories to the representation.

The last CABE meeting noted that over 12,000 new schools remain to be opened across the country and over 2.5 lakh additional classrooms, besides a large number of toilets, drinking water facilities, and ramps are still under construction.

The representation notes that children from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes, Muslims, girls and those from migrant and displaced families will be the most affected by any delay. “We are concerned that the State may never be prepared to provide education to these children,” they have said.

On a war footing

“The proposal for extension as a blanket measure is uncalled for. Rather than seek extensions that will harm the children’s development and life chances, the Centre and States must work on a war footing to make available the requisites by 2013,” says the representation.


  • March 31, 2013 is the deadline for providing schools with adequate infrastructure

  • ‘The proposal for deadline extension as a blanket measure is uncalled for’