Saturday, March 30, 2013

NMC education department defies state order on RTE

NMC education department defies state order on RTE

Abhishek Choudhari, TNN Jun 27, 2012, 01.04AM IST

NAGPUR: Nagpur Municipal Corporation's (NMC) defiance of a clause under Right To Education (RTE) Act has left the state government red-faced. The state has designated NMC as the authority to identify neighbourhood schools within Nagpur city limits and issue a distance certificate for the same, but the local authority claims the rule book's wording is not explicit.
Part III and point no. 5 of the state government's RTE rules (published on October 11, 2011) says 'the local authority shall designate a neighbourhood school for every settlement or area and shall make this information known to public'. Speaking to TOI, NMC's education officer Ram Dongarwar said, "I need more clarity on which local authority the government is talking about. I have now written to the RTE in charge for Nagpur district asking him to issue me written orders for preparing distance certificates, without which I am helpless."

When told that it is clearly understood that NMC would be the local authority within city limits, he replied, "You and me saying does not matter, I need to have it in writing. There should be no confusion regarding this at all."
A fuming Sanjay Deshmukh, project director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and head of RTE in state said, "I am shocked to learn that a civic body employee is unaware of the term 'local authority'. The state will take strict against Dongarwar if even a single admission in Nagpur is cancelled due to lack of distance certificate as this is a case of dereliction of duty."
TOI had reported on June 22 that NMC's standing committee had agreed to issue distance certificate after many parents had approached their education office for it. So even after the committee's decision was informed to Dongarwar he has stuck to his stand of 'lack of clarity' and refused to issue certificates.
While the RTE as an act is applicable across the country the state government is permitted to frame rules for its implementation within their jurisdiction. The RTE pursues a neighbourhood policy which maintains that admissions under the free 25% quota can only take place in a school which is within a 1km radius of the applicant's residence. In Maharashtra, if a school does not get enough applicants it can expand its purview to an 'extended neighbourhood' of 3km.
A state board-affiliated school's principal said, "This confusion is creating more problems for us as parents do not understand the rules and regulations. Many of them keep coming at our admission counters and accuse us of misleading them regarding documents. We are stuck between an education department that is ignorant and arrogant and parents who just don't trust us at all."

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