Kerala HC Has Ruled That Schools Lacking Adequate Playgrounds Should Be Closed

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Case Title: Prakash N vs GWLP (Government Welfare Lower Primary School)

A single bench of Justice PV Kunhikrishnan of the Kerala High Court recently emphasized the necessity for the State government to enforce strict measures against schools lacking adequate playgrounds in accordance with the Kerala Education Rules.

The bench emphasized the significance of play in a child’s holistic development “The education should not be restricted in classrooms and the extra curricular activities including sports and games should also be a part of the education curriculum. It will increase the physical skills of the children like flexibility and balance motor skills, hand-eye co-ordination and heart and lung function, is the new scientific study. Social skills, cognitive skills and emotional skills also will improve, if the children are allowed to engage in games and other activities in the school playground. This will definitely reduce the stress and anxiety of the children in the classroom,”

It was observed that the Kerala Education Rules  do not specify the mandatory facilities for playgrounds in State schools. This oversight has been exploited by school authorities and the management of aided schools.

Consequently, the Court mandated the State government to establish standards or directives aligned with Chapter IV, Rules 1 and 3(2) of the KER. These should delineate the required size of playgrounds for each school category and the essential amenities. This directive is to be fulfilled within a span of four months.

Significantly, the Court emphasized that once these guidelines are established, it is imperative for all schools to comply. Any school found to be disregarding the stipulated norms may face severe repercussions, including the potential closure of the institution, as decreed by the Court.

The bench said “Right to education is a fundamental right of the children. The education includes play and other extra curricular activities. If there is no suitable playgrounds for games and sports in schools containing sufficient clear space for that purpose as provided in KER, the government should take stringent action including closure of those schools”.

The court issued a ruling in response to a petition challenging local government authorities’ plan to construct a water tank on a specific school’s premises without obtaining the necessary approvals. However, the court was later apprised that the proposal for the water tank had been withdrawn. Even though this resolved the immediate issue, the court underscored the absence of precise guidelines in the Kerala Education Rules regarding the required playground area for different types of schools.

It noted that, unlike the KER, both the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CICSE) have explicit guidelines concerning playgrounds in the schools under their purview.

Furthermore, the court highlighted that the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act does not specify the playground’s dimensions, only mandating the provision of a playground for the school. In light of these observations, the court has instructed the state to formulate guidelines delineating the playground area requirements for schools, inclusive of the amenities to be included in these spaces.

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