In recent weeks, Gujarat notified its Rules for the implementation of the Right to Education Act (RTE) 2009. It has introduced some of the most innovative ideas for recognition of existing private unaided schools.
Instead of focusing only on input requirements specified in the Act like classroom size, playground, and teacher-student ratio, the Gujarat RTE Rules put greater emphasis on learning outcomes of students in the recognition norms.
This is one of the first times in India’s history that public policy has focused on children and parents, instead of focusing on the public sector producers of education services.
The Gujarat RTE Rules have taken a more flexible approach in many areas. For instance, both class size and teacher-student ratio have not been defined in absolute terms, but in relative terms.
The required classroom size is 300 sq feet but in case classrooms are smaller, then instead of rebuilding them, the rules allow for a way to accommodate that with a different teacher-student ratio. The formula is: Teacher Student ratio = (Area of the classroom in sq feet-60)/8. This approach not only allows smaller classrooms to exist but also gives schools a more efficient way to manage physical infrastructure.
If a private school is unable to meet recognition norms, then the RTE Act de-recognises the school and forces it to close down. This sudden forced closure would create serious problems for the students and parents who would have to find a new school in the neighbourhood. The Gujarat Rules allow for the state to take over the school, or transfer management to a third party, and create a genuine possibility for the school to continue and meet the norms.
Such rules will enable proper implementation of the RTE Act and help counter the loopholes in the Act.