The minimum infrastructure norms of the Right to education Act, 2009

As we know that the RTE Act has made it very clear that, every child of the nation is entitled to get free, compulsory and quality education. The aim of the Act is not to simply increase the rate of literacy, but to produce well educated children ready to take the mantle of nation building. So, the quality education being the most challenging component of this legal enactment demands to create a favourable and congenial learning space, where the overall development of children may took place.  The basic idea behind this provision is unless a suitable environment is not provided to a learner; he/she won’t be able to produce the desired result. Hence, the proper seating arrangement to sanitation, adequate number of teachers and other basic facilities are necessary.  

The right to education Act has set a standard of minimum infrastructure for primary schools in the country for the first time ever. It is now the law that every school must have a class teacher for every class, drinking water, toilets and sports facilities etc. These are known as minimum infrastructure norms and it is also known as ten norms. These norms are regulations that define the infrastructural conditions required to make a school a school. These minimum standards lay down the basic level of infrastructure that every school must meet in order to function properly and provide student friendly environment.

Every School whether it is government run or a private, has to meet these ten basic requirements.

The ten (10) basic parameters to ensure the quality of education are here as under:
1.      Building,

2.      Drinking water,

3.      Separate toilets for girls and boys,

4.      1 teacher for 30 pupils (1 for 35 in Upper primary)/ 1 class per teacher /200 working days per year,

5.      Boundary wall,

6.      Playground,

7.      Shed for kitchen,

8.      Ramp (for the disabled)

9.      Office-cum-store and

10.  Teacher headroom.

The aforementioned norms are required to ensure the availability of good learning environment, but it is a matter of great concern that a large number of schools fail to comply with RTE norms.  The UNICEF report said that many schools in the state did not have even five of the 10 provisions. It is also a fact that, large number of schools is with the government and local bodies in the state.

Interestingly, about 1.62 crore children have been enrolled in the elementary schools across Maharashtra of which 63.3 lakh are studying in the government managed schools, 97 lakh in private institutes and 77,700 in the schools still unrecognized.

According to a report on the infrastructure in schools released in August 2013 only 7,355 of the 67,718 government schools in the state had fulfilled all 10 infrastructure indicators laid down by the act. As many as 3,711 schools did not meet even half the norms.

The latest District Information System of Education (DISE: 2013-14) survey conducted by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Maharashtra) reveals that only 23,099 out of 1.05 lakh elementary schools (22%) are able to qualify on 10 indicators mandated under the Act.

In this regard, the President of BMC Teachers Association said that, "The RTE Act came into effect in 2010. Even after four years, neither Maharashtra nor other states have implemented it effectively. The state lacks the will power to crack down on private managements. We have approached the Bombay high court in this regard so that the court can compel the government to act seriously towards the overall development of the children."

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