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Thousands of schools face closure in city

2235 schools unable to keep up with Master Plan 2021 norms, Neelam Pandey reports.

delhi Updated: Jan 17, 2013 01:01 IST
Neelam Pandey

The fate of lakhs of students studying in private unrecognised middle schools hangs in the balance as they are on the verge of closure for not meeting the criteria of the Master Plan of Delhi (MPD) 2021. More than 5 lakh students study in these 2235-odd schools across the Capital.

These schools have not been recognised, as they do not meet the standards prescribed in the Master Plan.

Most of these are small neighbourhood schools. According to the guidelines of the Master Plan, all middle schools in the city need to have at least 1,000 square metres of land to be eligible for recognition. After the implementation of the Right to Education-2009, schools that are not recognised are liable for a one-time penalty of Rs. 1 lakh or R10,000 per day fine. This may lead to closure of such schools from April 2013, leaving lakhs of students in the lurch.

A meeting will be held on Thursday to discuss the issue. According to sources, the education department plans to ease norms since it has the power to do so for schools till class eight. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/1/17_01_13-metro7.jpg

"We have been taking up this matter with the government as we know that most schools will not be able to meet the standards laid down in the new Master Plan 2021. We had suggested that rather than prescribing 1,000 square metres as a criterionfor recognition, we should lower it," reads the letter sent to the education department from the Delhi State Public Schools Management.

According to Delhi government officials, all these schools have not been able to fulfil the criteria due to scarcity of land.

"If we follow the Right to Education Act, most of these private schools will have to be shut down, affecting the academic future of lakhs of students,” said the member of a committee, which represents more than 80 per cent of recognised public schools as well as all the unrecognised schools in the Capital.

“In any part of the city, constructing a middle school of 1,000 square metres will cost nearly R10 crore. So, school managements will have to charge higher fees," the member added.