Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Right to excuses

Right to excuses

Abhishek Choudhari, TNN Jun 21, 2012, 01.10AM IST

NAGPUR: While almost all private CBSE schools in the city reopened their admissions on Wednesday for 25% free seats as mandated under Right To Education Act, the older minority institutions of state board have decided to hold back. These schools claim 'unaided minority' status allows them to refrain from participating in the RTE admission exercise. However, these schools receive financial aid from Std V onwards, and the education department feels they are using a legal loophole to avoid reopening admissions.
A principal of one of these schools said on condition of anonymity, "The RTE admissions have to be done only at the entry level and ours is at KG. But we do not get any sort of government support till Std IV, hence we are not bound to reopen our admissions - in every sense of the word we are legally correct."

RTE has exempted all minority institutes which do not receive grants from the government from its purview. Schools like SFS High School, Tata Parsi, St Joseph's Girls School etc receive government grants only from Std V onwards and hence have claimed the 'minority unaided' status to exempt them from reopening admissions under RTE.
Senior education officers at Mantralaya confirmed to TOI that these schools are well within their right to do so. Speaking to TOI from Mumbai a senior official said, "It always becomes a sensitive issue when it comes to minority status of a school and we are aware of the problems in Nagpur. This year nothing can be done but we are exploring legal options to see if the schools can be made to comply from next year onwards. We feel they are using a legal loophole to free themselves of the responsibility to admit students under the 25% quota."
However, the minority schools disagree, saying students at their schools are already from the poorer sections of society. A principal from a convent school said, "You should take a look at our student profiles, they are all from the weaker sections and our fee is just between Rs 3-500 per month and when the students reach Std V the education is free anyway. The number of students in each section is over 60, which proves that we are not refusing admission to people at large."
The minority school principals told TOI that the reason for their 'resistance' is to protect their constitutional right. "Today, it is about admission, tomorrow it will be about something else and you never know where it will stop. When the department is not giving even a single paisa to us for primary education then how can they dictate terms to all of us?" asked a principal.

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