The state government has tightened rules for opening private primary schools, making it mandatory for the managements to obtain prior consent of the education department.
Officials said the move would help implement certain provisions of the central law on free and compulsory education for children by ensuring a degree of surveillance over the private schools.
“The new rules that have come into effect in February have made it compulsory for anyone planning to start a primary school to obtain a no-objection certificate from us,” said an official in the school education department. “The condition does not apply to play schools and kindergarten.”
The existing private primary schools will not be required to take the NOC, though, the official pointed out, the government will soon issue an order asking them to apply for registration.
During the Left Front regime, government consent was not required to run a school till Class VIII. The permission was needed for classes IX to XII.
The school education department thinks the new measure would result in better compliance of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009, which has set a standard for teachers and facilities at primary schools, government-aided or private.
The act states that a primary school must have trained teachers, pollution-free surroundings, a playground, spacious classrooms and separate toilets for girls and boys.
The government feels that lack of supervision had resulted in the mushrooming of substandard primary schools that fail to meet any of criteria laid down in the act over the past three decades.
“More than half the private primary schools deserve to be immediately shut down, going by the standard of their staff and facilities. Many schools are run from a hall in the houses of the owners. More than 75 per cent of the schools do not have a playground,” the official said.
Since unaided primary schools were not required to take government permission, the school education department has no record about the number of such institutions.
“According to a rough estimate, there are about 20,000 unaided primary schools in the state. We hope to get a clear picture about the state of affairs in the unaided schools in the next six months following their registration,” the official said.