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Monday, April 9, 2012

Child rights panel shoots off letter for more schools in cities

Rageshri Ganguly, TNN | 
Apr 8, 2012, 

BHOPAL: The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) has written a letter to the Department of Housing and Environment that Bhopal and other cities in Madhya Pradesh should have provision for more number of schools vis-a-vis RTE (Right to Education Act) following media reports of developing cities 'vertically.' 

A Planning Commission steering committee, in its draft report, has recommended providing additional FSI (floor space index; the ratio between built-up area and plot size). The committee in its report has recommended providing additional FSI, calling the present density regulations in Indian cities "archaic", with the lowest FSI (floor space index) in the world. 

The letter written by a member of the SCPCR, Vibhangshu Joshi, to the principal secretary Housing and Environment, states there is a need for more schools in inner residential areas of the city where the high-rises are slated to come up following plan of developing the city vertically instead of horizontally. 

"If the city is to be developed vertically, it would need new schools to meet the RTE guidelines," the letter states. 

"The letter to the Department of Housing and Environment states that if the city density increases because of the skyscrapers, there should be planning for new schools as well. According to the RTE norms, 10 square feet of space has been allotted for every child. The cityscape should be planned according to those guidelines. Otherwise the children belonging to the disadvantaged section of the society, (BPL) would suffer immensely as they would have to travel far to go to schools," he added. 

The letter states in a bid to increase the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of existing residential areas of the city which would lead to a higher density, there should be designated space for more number of schools as well, as currently there is a dearth of schools according to the RTE norms. 

Joshi said, "The number of children in a class should be proportionate to the sitting arrangement otherwise the teachers would face difficulty in teaching, giving rise to the 'drop out rate'. Also the 'working space' of teachers should be increased according to the existing laws." 

Earlier this month, the HRD ministry reported that there was an increase in the drop out rate of children under the RTE. 

Every child under the age of 14 has to be imparted education up to class VIII according to RTE by March 2013. To achieve the target of 'zero drop out rate,' the capacity for sitting arrangement should be raised for children.

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