About 75% of schools in Mumbai do not have their own playground, the state government admitted on Friday. This is despite the fact that the Right to Education Act, 2009, has made it mandatory for schools to have their own play areas.
The all-India education Survey conducted by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), which was released in January, shows that the number of schools not having playgrounds ranges from 50% to 75% in different categories — primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary schools.
In Mumbai, of the 1,203 primary schools, only 567 have a playground, while in the upper primary 455 schools of 881 have one.
In the case of secondary schools, which might overlap with primary and upper primary, 568 schools of the 1,282 have their own ground. And in the last category of higher secondary schools, of the 218, only 98 have a playground for their students.
This study conducted over seven years from 2002 to 2009 looked at the physical and ancillary facilities across recognised schools, which included playgrounds, drinking water and toilets. “It is true that the RTE act makes it compulsory for schools to have their own playgrounds. To solve this problem, we have asked schools to use the nearest public playground,” education minister Rajendra Darda said in a written reply to a question raised by Congress legislator Sanjay Dutt in the legislative council on Friday.
Dutt had asked the government whether it had made any provisions to ensure that the schools who do not have space for their own playground deal with this situation.
A senior official from the school education department said this is a typical problem in areas like Mumbai where there is a huge space crunch. He added that to deal with this problem, the sports policy announced in 2012 says that civic bodies cannot change existing reservation for open spaces such as playgrounds and recreation grounds.