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Bengal education law deadline

New Delhi, Oct. 19: Bengal education minister Bratya Basu today said the state government would next month notify rules to implement the right to education act, a requirement for central assistance to set up elementary schools.

Basu, who was here for a conference of state education ministers on the one-and-a-half-year-old law, said the rules were “almost ready”.

“We will notify the rules by November. Then we will demand the additional grants that we have not got this year for starting new schools,” he said.

The HRD ministry stopped release of funds to Bengal and some 14 other states this year as they had delayed notifying the rules for implementing the law, which came into force on April 1 last year.

The ministry gives the funds to states under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan scheme to open new schools in areas that do not have a regular school.

The act says local authorities have to establish a school within the prescribed area or limits of the neighbourhood within three years from the law’s commencement. The neighbourhood limit has, however, not been defined but left to states, keeping in mind factors like an area’s population density and location.

This means states have to undertake a mapping exercise to find out areas “un-served” by a regular school. “Once we notify the rules, we will do detailed mapping of the un-served areas,” Basu said.

Apart from Bengal, the states that have not notified rules include Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Punjab, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Nagaland and Goa.

Uttar Pradesh, too, hadn’t done so till July this year, but got its share of funds after notifying the rules.

Human resource minister Kapil Sibal asked every state to notify the rules soon and stressed on a sustained campaign to create awareness about the RTE act, which made education a fundamental right of every Indian child.

The ministry will organise a programme in Haryana on November 11 to spread awareness about the law. An evocative message from the Prime Minister addressed to children will be mailed to each elementary school in the country and read out by the head teacher in the school assembly on that day.

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