Saturday, April 5, 2014

Zilla Parishad helpline gets lukewarm response

Kolhapur: The primary education department of the Kolhapur zilla parishad (ZP) has received merely four calls from beneficiaries over the last four days after introducing its helpline for the admission process under the 25% quota of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.

The ZP had launched the helpline number earlier this week for RTE beneficiaries in case they face any problems with the admission procedure. Admission to reserved seats under the RTE Act is meant for students from socially and economically backward classes.

An education department official said on the condition of anonymity that lack of proper awareness about the helpline as well as the admission procedure is the main cause of the department having received a lukewarm response.

Anuradha Bhosale, vice-chairman of a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works for school education, Avani, told TOI, "The department should make sure the helpline number reaches the grass root level, which means people whose kids could get admission under the 25% quota scheme. We are talking about parents who cannot afford heavy educational expenses for their wards. How can they contact concerned authorities unless they are not themselves aware about the helpline number? The department is not making efforts that would actually help these people. It is just completing the formality."

Bhosale added that the department is ill-prepared about the admission procedure. It should reach out to slum areas and arrange better awareness campaigns.

A city-based school principal told TOI on the condition of anonymity, "Many parents do not reach out to schools with better education facilities. An inferiority complex, lack of awareness and many other reasons play a major role in the 25% seats being vacant despite lack of financial burden on the beneficiary." Earlier, the Kolhapur ZP primary education officer had asked all block development officers to commence admissions under the 25% RTE quota at the block level.

Parents or beneficiaries with queries or complaints can contact the ZP on the helpline number 18002331215 from 10am to 5pm during weekdays.

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