Tuesday, April 9, 2013

No space for poor students?

No space for poor students?

With not many schools willing to implement RTE Act in its true spirit, the civic body education board says it will help children belonging to EWS get admitted to schools and at the same time it will derecognise schools that refuse to share the responsibility. Despite SC ruling, most city schools reluctant to implement RTE Act
Even after the Supreme Court ruling on 25 per cent quota for students from economically weaker sections (EWS), its implementation in most of the city schools is still uncertain. While some schools have been claiming that their admission procedure is over, others are citing lack of infrastructure as reason for failing to accommodate additional students.
Madhura Kulkarni of Nutan Marathi Vidyalaya (NMV) said their classrooms that already have about 70 students will not be able to accommodate more. "Giving admissions to 25 per cent students from EWS is not feasible for us this year. We have many students who are from the 'below poverty line' bracket. We do not have the infrastructure to support more students," said Kulkarni.
"We did get a few queries. As per the rule, they need to produce income certificate and also prove that they stay in the vicinity of the school. Once we verify all this, we can surely admit them," said Nalini Sengupta, principal, Vidya Valley School.
Cambridge International School authority claims that they were not approached by anyone from the economically weaker section till they finished the admission process in January. School director Ram Raina said, "Though the school is not against the Act, some parents might have reservations about their child sharing a classroom with children from poorer families." He added, "I can surely guide such parents but I can't change their mindset."
Since no such admission was sought at City International School, Kothrud, the school filled up its regular number of seats, said Principal Nirmal Waddan. He said the school welcomes the 25 per cent reservation but being a CBSE board, they had to begin the academic session in April and offer admission on first-come-first-serve basis.
Mrudula Mahajan, principal of D Y Patil School, Pimpri, said since they were permanently unaided school, the norm does not apply to them. "We have not yet received any government circular...There is still confusion about the issue. Also, since we are permanently unaided school, we believe the norm does not apply to our institution," said Mahajan.
Teresa David, principal of Laxmanrao Apte Primary School, said the school already has many students that are from economically weaker section. "We have many slums in the vicinity, so we have many students from poor economic background. Many a times we try and help these students to pay the fees by getting financial aid from NGOs," said David. However she said in absence of 'clear instruction from the government', no admission has officially been done under the 25 per cent quota for EWS section.
Usha Wag, primary school committee president, Huzurpaga School, said, "The RTE Act says that schools cannot have more than 50 students in a classroom. But if we take additional 25 per cent students, we will have to divide the class and get more teachers and classrooms which is very difficult at such a short notice."
Deepa Kaul, principal of Dayanand Anglo Vernacular (DAV) school said no student from the EWS section had approached the school seeking admission. "Though the admissions for our entry level classes were were carried out in November last year, we are willing to admit students under RTE," she said.
However, the education board has received complaints from many parents about schools that have been denying admissions to the students. A team of education officers from the PMC education board today visited Dastur Boys School after receiving complaint. Shubhangi Chavan of the education board said, "We visited the school to gather information about their status. They told us that they were a minority school but we told them that as they get funds for students' books from the government, they will have to implement RTE Act."
Activist Suresh Jain said, "We have received complaints about Dastur, Mount Carmel, Vidya Bhawan, St Anne's School and St Mira's. We are planning to meet the deputy director of education tomorrow and ask him to take action against them."
Many schools implement the Act, calling it noble initiative
Not all schools are trying to get away from implementing the RTE Act. A handful of schools in the city is trying its best to accommodate as many such students as possible.
Anjali Mudholkar, headmistress, Progressive Education Society's National Chemical Laboratory School, said at least 10 EWS students have been admitted this year. "Our admissions were closed by June 2, when the government resolution was announced. However, we wanted to accommodate at least a few students as this is a noble initiative. Till last year, we had been taking 120 students in Class I, but this year we're hoping to take it to 140 to accommodate these kids. We will also try to take in a few of them in nursery," she said.
She, however, expressed concern over whether schools will receive refund from the government for allowing a fee waiver to students. "If it turns out to be like the scholarships, where funds are released months later, then schools will find it difficult to continue the programme," added Mudholkar.
Vaishali Namjoshi, principal, Dnan Prabodhini School, Nigdi, said the body that runs the school has been taking in EWS students long before SC made it mandatory. "We have always had such students in the schools with the help of our trust and other philanthropic institutions. But now we can increase the number as the government will give us about Rs 10,000 for each child. We have admitted eight such students in a batch of 100 and we're getting more applications," she added.
"We got just one such query and we were very happy to admit him," said Lakshmi Kumar, director, The Orchid School. The school has put up notices in English and Marathi on its main entrance gate about its willingness to give admission to such students and a separate link on the school website about how they will implement the Act. "It is about national obligation and not personal choice," says Kumar. However, she has concerns as well. "The Act is not clear about who will provide textbooks to these students or what books will be given to them," she says.
Kalpana Agawane, principal of Ahilya Devi Primary School, said, "Our admissions are over, but we have given admission to students from EWS."
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