The Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) decision to withdraw no-objection certificates to three city-based schools for allegedly violating provisions of the Right to Education (RTE) Act could just be the beginning of a series of actions against private schools.
For, in Bengaluru South alone, education department officials have received complaints against six private unaided schools.
In the first case, the KSCPCR and the District Education Regulatory Authority (DERA) received separate complaints from parents against three schools managed by the Baldwin school management: Baldwin Co-education Extension High School in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Baldwin Girls High School and Baldwin Boys High School in Richmond Town. Complaints were about charging exorbitant fee, forcing students to buy books from a single vendor and for adopting XE syllabus in place of ICSE.
The KSCPCR promptly issued an order to the Education Department to withdraw the schools’ NoC. DERA is yet to take a call on the case. Withdrawing the NoC effectively means that the school cannot continue to function. These three schools together have a student strength of 12,000.
“It was confirmed during our scrutiny that the school management has forced parents to buy books from a single vendor. We will not issue directions for the school closure but will prepare a report with a set of recommendations,” said KA Dayananda, deputy commissioner, Bengaluru Urban, who is the DERA Chairman.
The deputy director of public instruction, Bengaluru South, who received the KSCPCR’s order, is expected to write to the state government recommending action. “The government will either take a decision or may recommend to ICSE Board for withdrawal of recognition. Only if the ICSE Board withdraws recognition, will the question of school closure arise,” DDPI Ashwath Narayan Gowda told ET.
Authorities seem unsure of action they must initiate against errant schools. “In all likelihood, the school in question will move the high court and get a stay order. Also, it is practically not feasible to issue a closure order when thousands of students are studying in the school. What alternative arrangement can be made for those students?” one official wondered.
Kripa Amar Alva, chairperson of the Child Rights Commission said closure is not the intention. “ICSE Board should give directions to the school to adhere to the rules. My order is clear and now it is up to the government to take a stand,” Alva said.
The fate of the complaints against six other schools will depend on the government’s decision on the Baldwin schools.