Maximum closures in Bathinda, minimum in Mohali Balwant Garg Tribune News Service

Faridkot, January 17 The Punjab Education Department has issued orders to close 1,170 unaided private schools for not complying with the Right To Education (RTE) Act. The action follows an inspection of these schools that brought out sorry state of affairs. The schools lacked toilets, separate toilets for girls and drinking water facility and electricity connection. Several schools were operating from rented buildings and old houses. The maximum number of closures are in Bathinda district (136), followed by Hoshiarpur (126), Patiala (78), Sangrur (76), Barnala (72), Amritsar (71), Gurdaspur (65), Tarn Taran (63), Muktsar (53) and Nawanshahr (51). In Ferozepur and Fathegarh Sahib, 14 schools each were closed. Mohali has the least closures at 13. Under the Punjab School Education Board Regulations for Affiliation of Institutions, every education institution in urban areas up to middle classes should have a minimum area of 1,000 square yards and every school up to Class 10 should have 2,000 square yards. In rural areas, the area should be 1,500 and 3,000 square yards for middle class and secondary level, respectively. The Department had given the school authorities three years to conform to the RTE Act but, during the inspection, several schools were found wanting on infrastructure, said a letter issued by the office of the Director General, School Education (DGSE), to all district Education Department authorities. Under the RTE criteria, the schools should have all-weather buildings, one-classroom-one-teacher, Head Teacher-cum-office room, library with a specific number of books, toilets of specific dimensions, drinking water facility, a playground, fencing and boundary walls. As there was no scope for improvement at the 1,170 schools, they were closed, the authorities in the DGSE’s office said. The Department would ensure that the students don’t suffer, the authorities said, adding that They would be admitted to nearby government schools after consulting their parents.

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