NEW DELHI: Vulnerable since the deadline for implementation of the Right to Education Act 2009 was up in April, unrecognized 'budget' private schools are a long way from meeting most conditions for recognition. The Delhi-based Centre for Civil Society has studied the 'Cost of Compliance to Norms and Standards set forward by Sections 18 and 19 of RTE' and found it works out to a four-fold increase in student fees.
In most cases, land norms specified in Master Plan Delhi (2021) got in the way of recognition. In March, the Delhi government reduced minimum land required from 800 sq m to 200 sq m, but hundreds of schools still don't qualify. Right to Education Act 2009 allows only recognized schools to function and also sets exacting standards for recognition. Budget schools, catering to students in some of the poorest (and unauthorized) areas, fall short on nearly all counts. Those surveyed met only one norm-all had municipal water supply.
Researchers selected 15 budget primary schools in Delhi. Budget schools are defined as "schools that charge less than the per-child expenditure of the state government in the public school system", that is, less than Rs 1,190.
Using "conservative estimates", they have tried to compute the minimum expense each school will have to incur to upgrade facilities to RTE standards and from that, the fee increase each student can expect. "An average four-fold fee hike will have to be imposed on the students," says the paper released at CCS' annual School Choice National Conference.
Schools may also close, leaving, CCS estimates, nearly 1,00,000 kids out of school. Government institutions are already overcrowded. The Shailaja Chandra Committee's 'Review Committee on the Delhi School Educaiton Act and Rules 1973' says Delhi has 1,593 unrecognized private schools catering to 1.64 lakh students.
"The total average cost per school was estimated at Rs 24 lakh," explains the study. At an 18% interest rate, each school will have to pay an EMI of Rs 35,521 over 30 years, it adds.
"Halving class size would mean doubling the number of teachers and will have a significant impact on education budgets," says the study. Compliance also means at least some teachers not meeting minimum qualification requirements will be replaced but as the researchers observe, "teacher characteristics and qualifications are poor predictors of better student outcomes."
- Shreya Roy Chowdhury
Read the story in The Times of India