Posted On Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 02:45:53 AM
A clause in the Right to Education (RTE) Act which prohibits schools from charging donations and interviewing children for admissions is going to be a powerful weapon in the hands of the state to crack down on such practices.
As per the law, which comes into effect this academic year, schools found guilty of charging donations or interviewing a child and his/her parents will be heavily penalised.
While parents have been raising the issue for many years, the state could not do much against erring schools due to the absence of a strong law.
The RTE Act - which makes it mandatory for schools to reserve 25 per cent of their seats for students belonging to weaker sections of society - will allow the state to take action.
“It will give teeth to the officers to penalise erring schools. Earlier, there was no such law. We had directives, but nobody would follow them,” said a senior education department official.
“The act is not just restricted to the 25 per cent students from weaker sections, it applies to all state schools,” said Sanjay Deshmukh, Special Project Director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
This is not the first attempt to check such practices. In December 2005, the Delhi High Court had given a “final” opportunity to private schools in the capital to devise a system for admission to nursery classes without interviewing them and their parents.
Five years ago, the education department issued fresh directives to check such practices after it received sharp criticism from parents. The parents alleged that their educational or economic status was often taken into consideration to decide on their child’s admission. They further stated that a child’s chances of getting admission were also affected if the parents were not articulate enough at the interview.
When asked about the law, Sucheta Bhawalkar, Principal of IES V N Sule High School, Dadar, said, “It’s a good practice. We have been following from even before talks about the enforcement of the RTE act.”
What the act says
(1) No school or person shall, while admitting a child, collect any capitation fee and subject the child or his or her parents or guardian to any screening procedure.
(2) Any school or person, if in contravention of the provision of sub-section (1)
(a) Receives capitation fee, shall be punishable with fine which may extend to ten times the capitation fee charged.
(b) Subjects a child to screening procedure shall be punishable with fine which may extend to twenty five thousand rupees for the first contravention and fifty thousand rupees for each subsequent contravention.