Private schools like the DPS or Gyan Niketan could face a one-time penalty of Rs 1 lakh and daily fine of Rs 10,000 for not complying with the Right to Education Act, 2009.
The education department diktat has come at a time when the schools are gearing up for the admission process of primary classes from the first week of January.
The Section 18(5) of the act stipulates that establishing or running schools without the certificate of recognition as mandated by the act would be considered an offence.
Ram Sharnagat Singh, joint director (primary education) and education department spokesperson, told The Telegraph on Thursday: “The department, through a letter (dated December 3) has issued a public notice stating that running any private school without recognition under the RTE Act, 2009, would be considered an offence from now on. Consequently, the offenders would be liable for a one-time penalty of maximum Rs 1 lakh and daily fine of Rs 10,000 as well. The director (primary education) has been appointed the competent authority for imposing penalty on the offenders.”
The Union government notified the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, commonly known as the Right to Education Act (RTE) on August 26, 2009, and it came into effect in the whole country except Jammu and Kashmir from April 1, 2010.
The state government had initially asked all private schools to get the mandatory certificate of recognition under the act by September 30, 2011, which was later extended to November 12 the same year.
“Two years have passed since the deadline but the rate of registration of private schools under the RTE has not been satisfactory. For instance, though the largest number of application (1649) for the certificate of recognition has been received from Patna district, only 67 have been granted it as the rest do not fulfil the norms and standards prescribed by the RTE Act. In all, 609 schools have been served notices for improving conditions for satisfying the criteria for recognition at the earliest,” said a senior official in the education department.
According to Section 19(2) of the act, a school established before the enactment of this act, can take a maximum period of three years from the date of commencement of the works to fulfil the norms and standards for being granted the certificate of recognition.
Sources in the education department claimed that the tendency of taking steps for meeting the criteria for certificate of recognition is more in the smaller schools compared to the well-established ones.
“The Patna district education officers has served several notices to around 25 well-known schools, including DPS, Krishna Niketan and Gyan Niketan among others, for taking necessary steps for meeting the criteria for the certificate of recognition but no response has been received from them yet,” said Singh.
The Private School Association has denied the claim of schools having been sent any notices for getting recognised under the RTE Act.
“We condemn the education department order. The education minister (P.K. Shahi), in a meet of our association at Bharatiya Nritya Kala Mandir in Patna on February 12, 2012, had said all schools would be given the recognition under the act and no fine would be imposed on any school. I also agree that the minister had asked the schools to improve their infrastructure at the earliest. However, it is extremely ironic that officers in his own department have made a mockery of his promises,” said Shamael Ahmed, the president of the Private Schools and Children Welfare Association, Patna.
Some private schools, which are facing charges of running the institution without a certificate of recognition, have claimed that the laxity has been on the part of education department. “We received a form from the education department for applying for the certificate, which we had duly filled in and submitted back to the department last year. However, we neither received any reply from the department nor have we been granted the certificate,” said S.M. Jha, media-in-charge, Gyan Niketan.
Christian minority and unaided schools have been kept out of the purview of the RTE Act according to an order passed by the Supreme Court on April 11, 2013.