Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nagpur leading from front on RTE: Darda

Nagpur leading from front on RTE: Darda

Abhishek Choudhari, TNN Jun 29, 2012, 02.25AM IST

NAGPUR: Even as schools across the state cry themselves hoarse about the challenges of implementing the 25% free seat quota Right To Education (RTE) Act, Nagpur city schools are already in final stages of completing admissions for the same. While on a visit to the city school education minister Rajendra Darda appreciated that "Nagpur has led from the front in RTE implementation."
"When TOI took the initiative to host a special debate on RTE, I did not hesitate to depute my senior official Sanjay Deshmukh to be part of it. Since then, my department has been getting regular reports of progress specifically for the 25% free quota admissions and Nagpur is clearly at the forefront," said Darda.

He added that a pan-Maharashtra performance could be gauged only on June 30 which is the date for admissions. Even though Nagpur has been at the forefront, it has not been a smooth ride. The biggest problem haunting the schools is the mandatory distance certificate to be issued by the local authority. The local authority Nagpur Municipal Corporation ( NMC) has washed its hands off claiming lack of written orders.
Darda said, "I am aware of these issues but then schools have also been given freedom to go beyond the 1km radius and look for students. Also, this is the first year of RTE and it is natural we will run into some problems. In August, we are issuing a new notification that will address all the problems we have seen so far."
The common question schools across the state are asking Darda's department is how the 1km distance be calculated. "Will it be from the nearest road? Will it be the radius? Many questions have been posed and some have suggested we go for division by wards as people understand that better. So these are all aspects we are considering and will address it in August," he said.
The recent decision by his department to exempt schools of all responsibility of student safety by outsourcing school bus service had come under some flak from parents. However, Darda clarified, "we have now handed over the charge to transport department. They are more aware than us about safety regulations. For us, safety of students is paramount. It is not right to say we are washing our hands off the responsibility."

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