No extension in RTE deadline: HRD Minister

New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) Human Resource Development Minister M.M. Pallam Raju Tuesday said there will be no extension in Right to Education Act (RTE) deadlines but left the decision of action against non-complying schools on state governments.

Talking to reporters after a meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), the minister said it was the general consensus in the highest advisory body on education that the deadline should not be extended.

“Though some states demanded extending the RTE deadline, as of now, there is a consensus in CABE that the deadline for RTE should not be extended,” the minister said.

The deadline for implementation of RTE Act was March 31, 2013. However, a lot of states are lagging behind with schools lacking infrastructure, qualified teachers and other things.

Raju said the responsibility of taking action against schools for non-compliance of RTE Act was with the state governments. He, however, assured that non-complying schools will not be shut overnight.

“It is in the hands of state government to take action. There will be a process to it, there will be an inspection, then the schools will be sent notice, they can explain why they are not complying with the norms,” Raju said.

He, however, added that action should be taken against schools which are in bad shape, or fail to follow the guidelines even after warnings.

The minister also said that the a lot has been achieved since the RTE was implemented.

“We have gained in creation of infrastructure, though more needs to be achieved. We are lagging behind in teachers’ training, but there have been sincere efforts. But there is a positive spirit among the states to implement the act,” he said.

Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh sought extending the deadline of RTE, while Maharasthra had sought the government to clarify its position on the issue.

Speaking in the meeting, several states had complained over not getting enough funds.

Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Jammu and Kashmir were among the states that complained that they were running short of funds for teachers’ salaries as well as the reimbursements to private schools for giving admission to children from weaker economic sections.

In response, Raju said the budget had to be cut in the last fiscal due to economic slowdown, but assured the states of adequate funds this year.

Some states complained that the provision of no detention till class 8 was affecting the quality of education as well as attendance. To this, Raju said that a committee has been formed to look into this aspect of RTE, adding that no detention did not mean there should be no exams in schools.

Earlier, in his address at the meeting, Raju urged states and union territories to implement the landmark act.

The minister said that 12,000 more schools had to be constructed under the RTE, and added that reducing gender and social gaps was the key areas of focus for the government.

“A plethora of reforms is needed in the education sector. The debate has shifted from access to quality of education,” Raju said.

The other important issues discussed in the meeting included the proposal of creating a national testing agency to hold all entrance exams, and including NationaL Cadet Corps and the National Service Scheme as elective courses at college level.

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