Taking a serious view of the non-implementation of the RTE Act by the state, the Bombay high court has directed the secretary, education, to explain what steps are being taken to ensure free and compulsory education for children till Std VIII.
The court directed the state to file an affidavit by January 20, giving details of the steps taken by it to implement the RTE Act.
The HC was hearing a petition filed by Brihanmumbai Mahapalika Shikshak Sabha, a union of teachers working in municipal schools, seeking that the government and the civic body be directed to implement the Act in all aided and unaided schools in the state, particularly in Mumbai.
General secretary of the union Ramesh Jain said they have been making efforts since 2010 with the authorities concerned but haven’t received much response.
Counsel for the petitioners Rajiv Patil argued that as of now the BMC issues school leaving certificate (LC) to students of Stds IV and VII (depending on after what standard primary ends in a particular civic school) and, hence, these children are likely to go out of the education system once they take the LC, thus getting deprived of free further education till Std VIII, said Patil.
The BMC runs 1,174 schools and the Act would be applicable to over 2.27 lakh students who are at present studying in Stds IV and VII, added the petition.
Anil Sakhare, counsel for the BMC, submitted an affidavit filed by Ravindra Bhise (education officer), which said they sent a proposal on October 8, 2012, to the government for opening new classes, sanctioning new teachers’ posts and providing financial aid, which is still pending approval.
AB Dubey, counsel for the Centre, sought time to get instructions from the central government. HC has kept the matter for hearing on January 20, 2014.
No action taken against errant schools: Minister
The state has not taken any action against any school so far for violation of the RTE Act, said minister of state for school education Fauzia Khan in the Legislative Council on Thursday. She said the Act does not specify what action can be taken. She admitted that though the state had implemented the Act, more than 50% seats in pre-primary or Std I, reserved for the underprivileged, weren’t filled, as per the RTE, for last two years. She was responding to a calling attention motion of Sena MLC Deepak Sawant.