In recent years, there have been reports in the media, that due to the implementation of the Right to Education Act 2009, many private schools have been closed down and many more will be closed down. The narrative that is being built around this goes on to say that all this is causing lot of hardships to lakhs of students. We contend that these reports are incorrect and that the narrative is false. We say this on the basis of a large on-the-ground study we have conducted. The study looked at 69 districts, across 8 states of India. Across these districts there are 34,756 private schools. As far as we could find, only 5 private schools have been closed for non-compliance of RTE norms, which is not even remotely comparable to the noise being made. Even for these 5 schools, we could not fully ascertain if RTE is the reason for closure.
Aside from these closures, 7,156 schools have been given notices across these 69 districts:
7000 of these notices were given in Bihar (all 38 districts), 105 in Rajasthan (9 districts), 27 in Telengana (1 district), 21 in Chhattisgarh (5 districts), 2 in Karnataka (7 districts) and 1 in Uttarakhand (6 districts). No notices were served in Puducherry and the two districts of Madhya Pradesh.
None of these are notices for closure as such. All of these are for allowing time to fulfil norms as per RTE. Eg:
- 7000 in Bihar are part of all private schools going through a recognition process. 3000 of them are being monitored and supported closely to make them RTE compliant.
- Of 105 in Rajsamand, all schools fulfilled criteria and so none were closed.
- All of 27 notices in Medak are to schools who don't have recognition, which is a requirement as per RTE.
- 2 notices in Bangalore are for not enrolling children of economically weaker sections as per RTE.
From this, it is absolutely clearly that no large scale closure is happening -- and the notion of "hardship to students" seems to be only a deliberate ploy to foment emotional response. This could be seen as an argument for being let off from the basic norms that should be met by any school, and which are very often not met. In general, nowhere in the world are private schools allowed to operate outside of the legal framework of the country. In line with this, the RTE norms intend to provide a good learning environment for the students and many schools which don't come close to providing such an environment actually deserve to be closed down. This doesn't cause as much hardship as is being made out, as for every private school that maybe shut down, a government school will be for sure present next door, which is available for the students.