Monday, January 27, 2014

Poll duty derails RTE implementation

Poll duty derails RTE implementation

Garima Prasher, TNN Apr 23, 2013, 02.43AM IST

BANGALORE: Nazneen Taj is crestfallen. She'd hoped the RTE quota would help her five-year-old son get quality education but the school where he got a seat is demanding Rs 6,450 as admission fee. She rushed to the Block Education Officer in Bangalore North on Friday morning to seek their intervention. But thanks to poll duty, there were no officials to either record or address her grievance.
"I wanted to register a complaint against a school charging me Rs 6,450 as admission fee which is over and above the charges for books and school uniforms. But there was nobody to listen to me. I was told all officials are on poll duty," says homemaker Nazneen.
For the second successive year since the introduction of the Right to Education Act, implementation has run into problems.
Last year, most schools backed out from implementing the 25% neighbourhood quota citing delayed implementation and their admissions being closed. This time around, the government was clear on implementation, drawing up a calendar for RTE admissions. However, schools threw a spanner in the works by resorting to tactics like demanding higher fee and even turning back children. With assembly elections a couple of weeks away and many officials on election duty, parents seeking their intervention to get schools to fall in line are finding little assistance.
"BEO officials are otherwise helpful. But since last week, there have been cases of parents being sent back due to the absence of many officials. Mostly, complaints are not being taken. At times, when we're able to register complaints, there is delay in action," says parent Ramesh Kumar (name changed).
With last dates to wrap up admission in many schools fast approaching, parents are getting restless. "The school has asked us to deposit the admission fee by Wednesday. If not, the admission may be cancelled. I've not been able to register a complaint with the BEO. The way things are moving at snail's pace, I may have to shell out the amount to ensure a seat for my daughter," says parent Mohammad Hanif.
Sources from the education department admitted there was a staff crunch, but there is no alternative. "If we're called for election duty, we have to be there without fail. No doubt it's a lot of work for us, but there is no alternative," said an official.

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