Following the rules in the Right to Education Act (RTE) will soon become easier for private schools in Maharashtra.
The state government is drafting an independent law for private schools to replace the 37-year-old Maharashtra Employees of Private Schools (MEPS) Act, 1977 as the provisions of the latter were clashing with the RTE act. The new legislation will cover all the aspects of functioning of schools- from government recognitions to appointment of teachers.
The State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) has been entrusted with the responsibility of drafting the new legislation, which will be uploaded on its website for public feedback in a couple of months.
"The MEPS Act only laid down the service conditions of the schools and even those were not updated as per the RTE Act," said Dinka Patil, joint director of the SCERT. "Several changes were required in the act so it was decided that it was best to scrap the old one and come up with a new law."
One of the major discrepancies in the existing MEPS act is that it makes no mention of thet Teachers Eligibility Test (TET), even though the RTE Act, 2009 has made it compulsory for schools to recruit teachers who have passed the TET. Similarly, neither does the MEPS include the new admission procedures according to the RTE Act nor the latest pay for teachers.
"Many cases about teachers demanding the sixth pay are pending with the court because MEPS Act has not been updated to include the latest pay scales. It is still stuck on the fourth pay commission," said Jayant Jain, president of Forum for Fairness in Educations, a NGO working in the field of education.
Schools in Mumbai are in favour of a new legislation that will cover all the aspects of functioning. "Harmonising other acts to the RTE Act is much needed. Having a single legislation will give clarity to school managements in running the school," said Najma Kazi, principal of Anjuman-I-Islam's Saif Tyabji Girls School, Byculla
However, with the Centre mulling over making changes to the RTE Act, some schools said that the state government should wait before drafting with a new act. "RTE is only evolving right now. So it doesn't make sense to come up with a new act in a hurry," said Freny Mehta, principal, Alexandra Girls' English Institution, Fort.