The deadline for the RTE admission process was extended from August 31 to September 30, following the poor response in the district.
According to official data, 373 schools are eligible for admission, under 25% of the admission quota in the district. As many as 4,197 seats have been reserved for this. However, only 2,083 children have taken admission under the provision, with 2,114 seats now remaining vacant.
The principal of a city-based school under the RTE admission category told TOI that despite the 25% quota, school administrators are "helpless" if parents do not approach the school for their wards' admissions.
Such an attitude will not help, said Smita Gaud, district primary education officer, Kolhapur. The primary education department has asked schools to get children from financially backward families admitted, specifying this as the schools' responsibility. "Many private schools tell us that poor families do not approach them for the admission of their children. We have told them that they need to look for children from financially backward families within a 1-km periphery of schools; they cannot remain inactive if such families do not approach them," Gaud told TOI on Saturday.
"Many parents have not even heard of RTE. Just like the administration, schools too should take the initiative to let people know about the benefits of the Act," Gaud said.
Gaud admitted that the administration's efforts were "insufficient" this year and need to be restructured in the next academic year to yield better results of the provision.
"We failed to disseminate information on RTE during the admission phase, which generally starts in May and June. The mistake will not be repeated again," Gaud said.