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Court talks tough on RTE

- State asked to ensure ‘strict implementation’ of act

The high court on Monday directed the Bengal government to ensure “strict implementation” of the right to education act (RTE) in all schools in the state.

The division bench of Chief Justice A.K. Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi also asked the education department to take steps, which may include cancellation of the licence, against schools flouting the rules framed by the state for the implementation of the central legislation.

“The state government has to do everything required to ensure strict implementation of the act. The education department will have to take appropriate steps, including cancellation of licence, against all the primary and secondary schools — except minority institutions — found guilty of flouting the norms,” the order said.

The order quoted from the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act and said each and every school must have a playground and co-educational institutions must have separate washrooms for boys and girls. “The students should get pure drinking water in schools,” bench said.

Referring to the teacher-student ratio mentioned in the act, the order said schools must have at least one teacher for every 30 students and ensure “free basic elementary education” for all children between six and 14 years of age.

“The school authorities will not be allowed to collect capitation fees and conduct tests while admitting students up to Class VIII…. There should be facilities to improve the learning ability of academically weaker students.”

The act, passed in 2009, has also banned the pass-fail system till Class VIII.

The legislation applies to all schools across the state, except unaided minority institutions.

Monday’s order followed a public interest litigation by an association of guardians of school students in Jalpaiguri.

Moving the petition on January 4, advocate Pradip Roy had submitted: “Even though the state government had framed the rules for the implementation of the RTE Act in August 2012, many primary and secondary schools are conducting admission tests and taking fees from students.”

Appearing for the state, additional government pleader, Tapan Mukherjee said: “The government has taken all possible steps so that each and every school follows the act.”

The bench told the state to make “elaborate publicity” so that common people get to know about the act.