Monday, March 14, 2016

RTE is not causing schools to close - APF Report

A new report from Azim Premji Foundation (APF) argues that India's Right to Education Act (RTE) "does not in any way by design seek closure of private schools, so long as [the Act's] norms are met. As revealed in this report, it doesn’t seem to result in closure of private schools in practice either, at least in districts of the 7 States and 1 UT where the Foundation operates." (p. 8)

As the report, "Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 and Private School Closure in India" (11 pages; PDFs here and here) notes, this is not the dominant narrative about the effect of RTE on private schools. Predictably, the report has raised something of a storm. "Many schools, mostly those under state board syllabus, have voluntarily closed down unable to bear the rigid RTE rules. The study is blind to ground realities," said the Secretary of the Associated Managements of English Medium Schools in Karnataka. A newspaper reports him saying that, "over 200 economy schools in Karnataka have closed due to the RTE". In contrast, the APF report finds that in the 69 districts that it surveyed:
only five schools closed down out of a total 34,756 private schools. Of these five schools, four schools were closed in Karnataka (all four in Yadgir district) and only one school was closed in Bageshwar district in Uttarakhand. It could not be ascertained whether non-compliance of RTE alone was the reason for these school closures. Also, whether the schools that were closed, were ‘recognized private’ or ‘unrecognized private’ schools is not stated. ‘Unrecognized private’ schools in any case do not have the license to function. (p.3) 
Punjab is one of the states which the APF report does not survey. A 2014 report by Centre for Civil Society (CCS), informs us that, "The education department of Punjab released a list of 1170 private schools closed down for the year 2013-14. While approaching the school owners of private schools, it came into limelight that some of the schools have been shut down under the RTE before the prescribed deadline [April 2014]." The CCS report (7 pages, PDF here) then goes on to investigate in two districts of Punjab the impact of these closures on the various stakeholders.

Thus the picture may be varied across the country and needs more investigation.