Monday, February 17, 2014

RTE Act takes a hit, poor are cold-shouldered in state schools

RTE Act takes a hit, poor are cold-shouldered in state schools

While replying to an RTI application, the Directorate of Primary Education said this year, only 58,727 seats were filled under the RTE quota in 9,071 schools across the state. Of the admitted students, 26,648 seats were filled by students of economically weaker section, while 21,127 students of Schedule Caste were admitted. As many as 6,283 students of Scheduled Tribes and 4,666 physically handicapped students were given admission under the Act. A total of 74, 226 earmarked seats have remained vacant.
Analysis of the data showed that urban centres have failed to implement the Act properly, while rural and backward parts of the state have fared well in filling up seats under the RTE Act. Jalgaon with 236 schools had 2,507 seats, of which only two remained vacant for the current academic year. Similarly, in Dhule of the 1,327 seats, only 50 remained vacant.
Districts of Akola, Washim, Yavatmal, Parbhani, Jalna, and Solapur saw more than 70 per cent of the reserved seats being filled. More than 60 per cent admission under the quota was observed in districts of Buldhana, Amravati, Beed, Nanded and Sangli. Rest of the districts witnessed 50 or lesser percentage of seats being filled under RTE.
The data revealed that within the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) area not a single admission was given under RTE. Pune had filled 50.9 per cent of the seats under RTE, while in Nashik 42 per cent of the seats were filled under RTE.
RPI corporator with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Dr Siddharth Dhende blamed the education department for its failure to implement RTE properly. "Many of the minority institutions shy away from giving admission under RTE as they say their primary sector is unaided. However, they continue to enjoy privileges given by the government. The government should make special efforts to ensure that the RTE is implemented properly as it would be doing justice to many socially backward people," he said.
Mahavir Mane, director of primary education, said the department has taken ample steps to ensure that RTE is implemented properly in the state. "We even extended the dates and said that EWS students seeking admission under the 25 per cent reserved quota should never be denied admission irrespective of the time of the academic year. But still the admissions are less," he said.
Putting the onus on the schools for the non implementation of the Act, he said: "Many schools did not follow the right procedure for admission of students under RTE, hence there number is unaccounted for. Then there was confusion among schools whether they come under the purview of RTE or not and hence many didn't follow it. Many schools have also approached court, saying they do not come under the RTE Act."
Mane said the ratio of compliance in admissions of EWS students under quota was better than in urban schools because there are less unaided schools in rural areas and they mostly comply with the government norms. In urban areas, although there is more awareness, all parents want their kids to be sent to renowned schools, he added.
'Online procedure from next year'<\b>
In a first of its kind move, the admission procedure for seats reserved under 25 per cent quota under RTE Act will be done through an online centralised procedure from next year. "We think this will be a major move in enforcing the law in all schools. There are loopholes in implementation owing to various reasons. With a centralised procedure, everything will be transparent and efficient," said Mahavir Mane, director, primary education.
"There will be admission centres in all districts across the state where parents can go and fill up the forms. The computer software will first try to give admission to these students in neighbourhood schools. If the seats there are full, the computer will increase the scope and give admission in other school as per the vacancy. The website is in the testing stage," added Mane.

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