Nearly 2,200 private schools in city face threat of closure

School managers of nearly 2,200 schools in the city will meet on Friday as they face the closure on March 31. These schools have not been able to meet the requirements of the Right to Education Act, 2009, and are looking at a possible extension of the deadline.

These schools, under the banner of Delhi State Private Schools Association (DSPSA), believe that "some of the provisions of the RTE are against the weaker section of society."

"According to Section 18(5) of RTE Act, after March 31, 2013, schools that are not recognised are liable for a one-time penalty of Rs 1 lakh and a per day fine of Rs 10,000. This may lead to closure of thousands of schools in Delhi. These schools may not be regularised because they do not meet present land norm requirements for primary school recognition (800 sq m as per MPD-2021)," DSPSA Chairman R C Jain said.

According to Jain, most of these schools are situated in slums, rehabilitated and unauthorised colonies where sufficient land and schools are not available. "At least 4.75 lakh students from weaker section of society will be affected by this closure," Jain said.

These schools are seeking a relaxation in the RTE norms - relaxation of deadline and the 800 sq m rule as they argue that more land cannot be bought due to a space constraints in the areas where they operate. Also, they charge a nominal fee from their students and there is "no way" they will be able to able to buy land even if it was available or even provide salaries to their employees,in accordance with the Sixth Pay Commission.

Jain said that in the past 10 years, the Directorate of Education (DoE) and MCD have merged or closed 56 and 216 schools, respectively. After 2002, DDA has not allotted land to public schools in accordance with the requirement of the population of Delhi. The Sheilja Chandra review committee of DSEAR, 1973 also mentioned the importance of these schools. The report says "if all these schools are closed, the fate of thousands of children would be jeopardised".

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