Court prod for RTE rules

The high court on Friday directed the government to file an affidavit stating the steps it has taken to implement the right to education act in state-aided schools.

The affidavit will have to be filed on January 7 when the matter comes up for hearing again before the division bench of Chief Justice A.K. Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi.

Jatiyatabadi Paribartankami Shiksha Manaska Abhibhabak Mancha, an association of guardians of school students in Jalpaiguri, has filed a petition in the high court, submitting that several state-aided institutions were flouting the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

Pradip Roy, the petitioner's lawyer, submitted that primary and secondary schools receiving financial aid from the government were conducting admission tests and taking fees from students.

The central legislation bars all state-funded primary and secondary schools from admitting students till Class VIII through tests. Also, students from classes I to VIII in these schools cannot be charged any fee.

The right to education act is set to be implemented from the academic session starting this year.

"Since the RTE is being implemented in Bengal from the 2013 academic session, every school must conduct the admissions following the law," said a source in the school education department.

The petitioner's lawyer also submitted that some of the schools were not abiding by the clauses in the right to education act related to the teacher-student ratio and special care for "academically weaker" students.

According to the act, a state-aided school should have one teacher for every 30 students. Roy complained that there were a large number of schools with only one teacher for as many as 50 students.

"Many schools lack the facilities needed to improve the learning ability of academically weaker students," lawyer Roy submitted.

Appearing for the state, additional government pleader Tapan Mukherjee said: "The government has instructed schools across the state to follow the right to education act. It is also keeping an eye on the schools to ensure that the rules are being followed."

The chief justice later said: "Let the government file the affidavit and clarify the steps it has taken to implement the act by January 7."