Kerala High Court Mandates Playground Guidelines for Schools, Stresses Right to Education

Kerala High Court directs state to draft playground guidelines for schools, emphasizing children's right to education and holistic development.

The Kerala High Court has mandated the state government to develop comprehensive guidelines defining the requisite playground space for different categories of schools, along with necessary facilities.

Justice PV Kunhikrishnan, in his remarks, emphasized the fundamental right to education, asserting, "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 the Kerala Education Rules (KER), the government should take stringent action including closure of those schools."

The court further stated that upon issuance of these guidelines, educational authorities must ensure strict adherence, even resorting to school closure if necessary due to non-compliance.

The case stemmed from a writ petition filed by the President of the Parent Teachers Association and a Managing Committee Member of a Government Welfare Lower Primary School in Pathanamthitta. They contested the district panchayat's decision to construct a rainwater harvesting tank on the school grounds.

Though the proposed construction became moot as the plan was abandoned, the court underscored the critical role of playgrounds in schools. It highlighted Chapter IV Rule 3 of the Kerala Education Rules, mandating suitable playgrounds for games and sports with ample clear space. Notably, the court observed authorities exploiting the absence of specific guidelines to neglect playground maintenance.

The court directed the formulation of these guidelines within four months from the judgment's receipt, emphasizing playgrounds' essential role in children's educational environment. It stated, "School playgrounds are an essential part of a child's learning environment providing a safe and fun place to play. The playgrounds can help children to develop their physical, social, emotional, and imaginative skills. 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."