Chandigarh: In a major setback to the educational institutes, the Punjab government has ordered closure of 473 private schools after they failed to implement norms of the right to education (RTE) act, a minister said on Wednesday.

Education Minister Sikander Singh Maluka said the non-affiliated private schools have been asked to wind up their operations immediately. "Schools which are yet to implement the provisions of RTE Act have been asked to wind up their functioning immediately," a release quoting Maluka said.

"The Punjab government had been sympathetic towards these educational institutions for long. They had been time and again requested to adhere to the RTE act but they were in denial mode in implementing the RTE norms," Maluka added.

He said that these schools were bound to get affiliations under the RTE norms for free and compulsory education."This forced the state government to take strict action against all these money-making institutions," the minister said.

Nearly 37,813 affected students of these schools could get admissions in the government schools, the minister said. These private schools had been given a deadline till March 31 to fulfill all the norms, he said.

The Education Minister said a fine of Rs 1 lakh would be imposed on the schools which do not follow the government order and continue their operations. Instructions have been issued to Director General School Education to ensure the closure of these schools, he said.

The district education officers have been directed to ensure the admission of affected students in the nearby government schools in consultation with their parents, the minister said.

(JPN/Agencies)

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