Discussions are on at the national level to bring about changes to the Right to Education (RTE) Act in the backdrop of the lower enrolment ratio in government schools, Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education Kimmane Ratnakar has said.
Speaking to presspersons here on Tuesday, he said that the Act was passed to ensure quality education to children from economically weaker sections of society. However, most of the parents of such children were preferring private schools and it was leading to fewer children being enrolled in government schools.
It was also creating financial burden to States, as the government had to spend a huge amount to ensure admission of children to private schools under the RTE Act.
“So far the State government has spent Rs. 400 crore to admit children under the RTE Act from lower kindergarten to Class 3 in private schools. This expense will go up to Rs. 1,500 crore next year when we will start enrolling children up to Class 8,” Mr. Ratnakar said.
The Union government too had noticed this fact and it was discussed at seminars on RTE Act attended by Education Ministers of States. However, the Centre had to take a final call in this direction, he said. Asked about a move to close down government schools with poor enrolment ratios, Mr. Ratnakar said that there was no such proposal.
“But, the government has decided to merge schools with poor enrolment ratios. It is not practically possible to run a school with a handful of children. Therefore, the opinion of parents will be sought and if they agree to send their children to a nearby school, the government will go ahead with the merger proposal. If the parents insist on sending their children to the same school, the government will run the school even if there is only
Mr. Ratnakar said that the merger of schools was a necessity in rural areas as the rural population was coming down by the day. It was one of the reasons for poor enrolments in government schools in villages, he said.
The government had decided to develop one school in each gram panchayat as a model school. There was a plan to provide vehicles to schools that were merged if the children had to cover a longer distance, Mr. Ratnakar said.
The government would provide Rs. 120 crore for nearly 400 government pre-university science colleges to set up laboratories this year, Mr. Ratnakar added.
Source : The Hindu