Thursday, January 23, 2014

Minority unaided schools out of RTE's 25% free seat ambit

Minority unaided schools out of RTE's 25% free seat ambit

Abhishek Choudhari, TNN Apr 24, 2013, 01.01AM IST

NAGPUR: The state government has issued a notification exempting minority unaided schools from reserving 25% of their seats for underprivileged children, as mandated under the Right To Education Act (RTE). The only hiccup is that the local education office is totally unaware of any such development, leading to confusion among schools and parents.
JS Sahariya, additional chief secretary in-charge of school education, confirmed to TOI last week that the notification has indeed been issued. "It has been well over a month since we clarified our stand," said Sahariya. The district's RTE in charge Someshwar Netam, however, is clueless. "No, we have not got anything yet in writing so till then the schools will have to give admissions," said Netam, who is also the education officer in-charge of primary schools.
Deepak Bajaj, secretary of Sindhu Education Society, said, "the local education office will continue to say this so that they can coax schools into giving admissions and improve their tally. A minority school has certain rights and privileges under the Constitution and the state government too has now accepted it."
Parents who had applied to various minority schools under RTE have been informed that the rule does not apply anymore and their admissions will be confirmed only after fee payment. A parent said, "We applied at a missionary girls' school where RTE procedure was being followed. Forms were filled and lottery too was taken out. Now they say that free admissions have been cancelled and fee has to be paid before this weekend."
Of all English medium minority schools that get government grants, only two in Nagpur get it from Std I -X (Saraswati Vidyalaya and Guru Nanak High School). Everybody else gets grants from Std V onwards making their primary section an unaided entity.
Bajaj said, "primary section is a different school all together. We have a different principal and transfer certificate is issued when going to middle school. So we all are unaided and minority which takes us out of RTE ambit." The state government however frowns at this interpretation. Sahariya said, "the law says even if there is partial funding, the school comes under RTE. You cannot use such excuses for exemption."
Regardless of the government's interpretation, minority schools are convinced they are on technically solid ground. Almost all schools have banded together and backed out of RTE free admission. And though the government may indulge in shadow boxing, it seems unlikely they can act against any of them.

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