Monday, February 17, 2014

RTE applications flood education dept

RTE applications flood education dept

UDUPI: There is a surge in number of applications received for free seats available under the Right to Education Act ( RTE) in private schools in Udupi district for the academic year 2014-15.

Against 1,076 free seats available, 3,195 applications have been received by the education department. There were only 1,601 applications received last year for the 1,003 free seats available.

Awareness programmes conducted by the education department this year seem to have resulted in threefold increase in applications this year though the last date for submitting application is February 19.

However there is a flipside to this new found enthusiasm for RTE seats. Except 1,076 free seats, the remaining 2,119 students, whose parents have applied for free seats, will be deprived of availing free education for their children. Sources in education department told STOI that selection of students will be done on priority basis.

Children, who live within 1-km radius of the school premises and whose parents' annual income is below Rs 1 lakh will get first priority while orphan children and kids of migrant labourers will be the next. Remaining children will be selected through lottery.

Ashok Kamath, district education officer, said a meeting of parents who had applied for RTE seats for their children will be convened prior to fixing the date for lottery draw. Parents will be intimated about the date in three ways. A letter will be posted to the parents, a notice will be put on the notice board of the schools and parents will be personally intimated through a phone call and their presence will be ensured. There will be transparency in the process, he said.

Kamath attributed the rise in number of applications to the intense awareness drive by the department. There were block-level meetings, school-level canvassing and door-to-door visits. Applications were made available free of cost to parents. Earlier, application forms had to be downloaded from the department's website.

Sources said there is lobbying by influential people to avail free seats to parents of their choice in the district. There is no attempt to ensure RTE seats for the most deserving children though school dropout rate is the highest in Udupi, they rued.

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