Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Nagpur Municipal Corporation doesn't know it has to designate 'neighbourhood schools' under RTE!

Nagpur Municipal Corporation doesn't know it has to designate 'neighbourhood schools' under RTE!

Abhishek Choudhari, TNN Jun 20, 2012, 12.48AM IST

NAGPUR: Admissions to Std I reopen on Wednesday in the city to admit poor students under the 25% quota mandated under Right To Education (RTE) Act. However, the rule that mandates the student's school and residence to be within a 1km radius is going to be difficult to implement. Even though a state government notification issued last year clearly states that the local authority has to define 'neighbourhood school' for every area, Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) is blissfully unaware of any such document.
Ram Dongarwar, NMC education officer (primary section), said, "They (parents) will have to contact the education officer at zilla parishad for this, as we have not received any intimation to sort out distance disputes under RTE. But, yes, certainly we will try to help out in whatever way possible."

Dongarwar was, however, at a loss to explain whether this 'help' he proposes to provide is because of any official communication from his superiors or the state government. Later, Dongarwar did not reply to our calls and messages.
While Dongarwar may claim ignorance, the state government had issued a notification on October 11, 2011, in which the matter has been clarified. The notification states that 'the local authority shall designate a neighbourhood school for every settlement or area, and shall make this information known to the public'.
Several school principals shared their apprehensions with TOI regarding the distance issue. Deven Dasture, director of South Point School, which admitted the state's first student under RTE, said, "Without an official letter from the local authority we will have a hard time processing the application. It is similar to admissions under the caste category, where the applicant brings along a caste certificate. We need a distance certificate as mandated under the law."
Kavita Nagarajan, principal of School of Scholars, said, "For at least this year we will be lenient with parents when it comes to the distance criteria since our management has decided to wholeheartedly support the RTE implementation. To ask parents to again run to NMC for a certificate will just consume more time and defeat the purpose of RTE. But yes from next year we will put in place a system and work in coordination with local authorities to define the areas that fall within the 1km radius of our institute."
With NMC's lackadaisical attitude, any application which is disputed by the school is sure to face major problems, specially in schools where admissions will be done by lottery.
Almost all schools in Nagpur city have decided to reopen their admissions specifically for the 25% free seats under RTE from June 20 onwards (See box).
Neeru Kapai, chairperson of CBSE schools association and founder-principal of Modern School, said, "We all have agreed and admissions forms will be distributed from June 20. Later, a scrutiny will be done of the forms and a list of eligible candidates shall be put up at the school's notice board. If the applications are more than seats available then a lottery will be held, in which girls will be given preference."

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