Thursday, June 26, 2014

Private schools still reluctant to follow RTE norms


TRICHY: A woman's attempt to seek help from the district administration to get her daughter admission in a private school under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, exposed the failure of the landmark legislation to provide 25% reservation for poor students in private schools. The woman had to approach the district collector after a school turned down her plea to admit her five-year-old daughter. Finally, on Monday the 32-year-old poor house wife received the application for admission after the intervention of the district administration.

The dream of R Sudha, the wife of a labourer, D Kannan, in Gandhi market in Trichy, is to provide the best education available to her daughter, despite financial constraints. She found a ray of hope in the RTE Act which ensures reservation for poor students in private schools. But her experience to secure Class 1 admission to her daughter K Meenakshi in a private school in K K Nagar was bitter. Though she had submitted the relevant documents to prove her poverty, the school made her run from pillar to post. "They had earlier denied her admission to LKG last year. When I approached them for admission to Class 1 this year, they did not give me a proper reply. So, I submitted petitions to chief education officer (CEO) and the Inspector of Matriculation Schools (IMS), Trichy. But my efforts failed," said Sudha.

As help was not forthcoming from the education authorities too, Sudha approached Trichy district collector Jayashree Muralidharan on Monday. On her orders, the school issued the application. "The school today gave me the application and asked me to come on Wednesday. But I don't know whether my daughter will get admission in LKG or first standard."

But top education official had a different take on the issue. "A private school can admit the students under the RTE Act in their entry-level classes permitted by the government. In this case, the particular school can admit a student to the LKG only. But the woman wanted admission for first standard," said P Mathivanan, IMS, Trichy.

Sudha's case is just a tip of the iceberg as many private schools are reluctant to reserve 25% seats for poor students. The failure of the education department to take action against schools violating RTE norms, encourage private school administrations to torpedo the progressive Act. Commenting on the issue, Mathivanan, said: "We are going to take the matter seriously. We will advise matriculation school administrations to follow the rules failing which they have to face the legal consequences."

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