The UT education department seems to have finally woken up to the issue of a large number of unrecognised schools running in the city. Director public instruction (schools) told HT on Sunday that the department has identified the schools running illegally and has sent the list of such schools to the senior officials and action would be taken against these schools.
One such school, Sehjjot Senior Secondary School in Dhanas, was highlighted by HT over a week ago after a local resident had filed a complaint against the ‘illegal’ institute with the education department. But it remains to be seen whether any concrete action would be taken.
Claiming that there were over 50 unrecognised schools in Chandigarh, DPI (schools) Rupinderjit Singh Brar said, “The district education officer (DEO) has compiled all the data and after the senior officials finish going through the detailed list, we will send it to the estate office and the municipal corporation and take action against the schools.” However, as per information gathered by HT, there are over 85 unrecognised schools in the UT.
RTE prohibits any school to operate without obtaining recognition
In the case of Sehjjot Senior Secondary School, the complainant had alleged that the school flouted safety precautions as it did not have a proper ventilation system or a fire escape route and also led to overcrowding in the area. But, what is important is that many other schools in and around the city have been running illegally for a decade, and some for as long as 15-20 years. Here, teachers are mostly volunteers, fee is minimal and beneficiaries the poorest. These schools don’t fulfil the recognition criteria in any aspect, be it land ownership or salaries or basic infrastructure norms such as playground, toilet facilities, drinking water facilities, boundary wall etc. As per section 18 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, no school can be established without obtaining certificate of recommendation, according to which, no school, other than a school established, owned or controlled by the appropriate government or local authority, shall alter the commencement of this Act.
Future of thousands of children at stake
What continues to be the most appalling aspect in this mismanagement is the future of children-which is at stake-after studying from these unrecognised schools. While most of these schools are till Classes 5 and 8, there are some which are running up to Class 12. Vishwa Public School, Mauli Jagran, running since 1996, is one such school with a strength of 253 students and 14 staff members, which is a telling figure in itself. Similarly, there is NS Tagore Model School, which has students from nursery to Class 10. Going by these figures, students in thousands have been enrolled in unrecognised schools in the UT. Some of these schools like RK Public School, New Little Public School, Mauli Colony, are running in single rooms with only one teacher.
As if this was not enough, sources say the heads of many of the unrecognised schools like Sunrise Public School, Daria and Chanda Public School, Mauli Colony, even refused to give information about the number of students enrolled, the number of staff members, the classes up to which the said school is running.