Saturday, March 30, 2013

RTE just on paper; only 100 poor kids get admission

RTE just on paper; only 100 poor kids get admission

Published: Thursday, Jun 28, 2012, 9:00 IST | Updated: Thursday, Jun 28, 2012, 0:08 IST
By Puja Pednekar | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Four-year-old Shubham Pal did not shed a tear on his first day to school. He was too busy admiring the surroundings, examining other children wearing the same uniform and polished shoes and carrying attractive water bottles.
His maternal uncle, however, had misty eyes. “I never imagined that my nephew would study in an English-medium school,” he told DNA.
Shubham secured admission in Vidya Bhavan school, Goregaon, under the 25% quota for the economically backward students as per the Right to Education (RTE) Act. “Shubham’s father is a truck driver. We do not have a steady family income and we cannot afford to pay school fees. We thought it would not be possible to send him to school. But we were wrong. It is a happy moment for us. We only hope that he will not be discriminated against in school,” his uncle said.
However, not everyone is as lucky as Shubham. DNA found that most private schools in Mumbai have been unable to fill quota seats despite RTE guidelines. The city has over 2,200 schools, but barely 100 students have secured admission under the 25% mandatory quota.
Unhappy with the response, the education department has extended the deadline for schools to admit children under the RTE quota to June 30.
The department will then conduct another check and demand an explanation from schools which have failed to admit students under the reserved category.
“Private schools in the city have not been following RTE norms. In comparison, other cities such as Nagpur have shown a better enrolment rate through this quota,” said Sanjay Deshmukh, nodal officer of RTE and special project director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
Schools said one of the reasons for seats under the RTE quota to remain vacant is that they have not received applications from students from the economically weaker sections. NGOs, however, allege that the schools are turning away such students who approach them.
Some schools said they received an overwhelming response and had to resort to the lottery system to admit students under the quota. Bhavan’s AH Wadia high school, Andheri, received 39 applications and admitted around 20 poor students after conducting ‘lottery admissions’ on June 20.
“We had kept aside seats for poor students as is mandatory under the RTE. We also gave details of our admission schedule and number of seats on June 4. We are happy with the response and will provide equal opportunities to these students,” said Nonika Bareja, school principal. Vidya Bhavan school also admitted seven students under the RTE quota.

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