Friday, April 19, 2013

Right to Education helplines ringing off the hook

Right to Education helplines ringing off the hook

Christin Mathew Philip, TNN Aug 8, 2012, 04.21AM IST

CHENNAI: Several students from economically underprivileged backgrounds have been dialling the Right to Education (RTE) Act helpline numbers, wanting to know how they could get into good private schools. According to the Right to Education (RTE) Act, which came into force from April 1, 2010, 25% seats are reserved for underprivileged sections in all private unaided schools.
Several private schools in the city have not implemented the provision and many people have called the helpline numbers with complaints.

The State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) created the RTE helpline numbers (044-28278742, 28211391) to help implement the legislation and give needy students access to private schools. Delhi-based NGO Social Jurist has also started national helplines (09868529459, 08826456565) for free legal assistance under the RTE Act to students from poor backgrounds.
"We have received several calls from various parts of the state," said SCERT joint director (schemes) M Palanisamy We are taking steps to address the complaints. We are also conducting various awareness programs for both parents and teachers."
Officials of SCERT said several callers ask for documents required for admission under the RTE Act. Many students and parents also want to know the nodal officers they should contact for admissions and the process of reimbursement of school fees.
"Most people are still unaware of the legislation. Many private schools claim that the RTE quota is not applicable to minority-administered schools," said a senior SCERT official. "We are also getting complaints that some private schools are not allowing admission under the RTE Act. We will take every step to ensure that the RTE Act is a success in the state."
Ashok Aggarwal, advisor of Social Jurist and national president of the parent's association, said the national helpline has received several calls from Tamil Nadu. "We are providing legal help to needy students seeking admission under the legislation," he said. "Some callers have complained of arbitrary hikes in the school fees without any notice."
Students Federation of India (SFI) is planning to organise campaigns across the state to promote awareness on the Act. The federation's state president, K S Kanagaraj, said many private schools are flouting the RTE Act. "We have been conducting various campaigns and seminars demanding effective implementation of the law," he said.

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