Govt apathy or connivance?
HOW THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION IS WRONGED
Activists allege govt, schools and education officials are trying to scuttle right to education of poor; city DEO data says RTE allotment in 107 schools less than 30% against intake capacity raising questions over the RTE admission processHarita.Dave@timesgroup.com
Delay in resuming second round of RTE admissions raises a stink. While parents of 56,589 students eagerly wait for it, the State government has expressed inability to start second round saying more than 300 schools — claiming to be minority institutes — have obtained stay from the court.
Even as various stakeholders continue to fight it out in the court, Ahmedabad District Education Officer (DEO) data of 687 schools reveals that there are 374 schools which have been allotted RTE students only in single digits. There are 107 schools where less than 30% RTE seats have been allotted against the intake strength. The situation in some of the top schools of Ahmedabad is striking (See table on pg2).
Delhi Public School, Bopal, has a quota (intake) of 100 RTE students but has been allotted only nine students this year. Similarly, Asia English School has been allotted only 24 students against quota of 50. It had no RTE student last year. Another reputed school, Udgam School for Children, was allotted only 15 students last year against quota of 83. This year, it has been allotted 53 students.
There are 1,25,784 approved seats for RTE in the state and only 72,294 students have been allotted schools in the first round of which 3,097 applications have been rejected. In all, 56,589 applicants that are eligible for RTE admissions are yet to be allotted schools.
What activists say
RTE activists allege that certain school managements and government are hand-in-glove to scuttle the right of poor to quality education.
RTE activist Mujahid Nafees said, “The government is just giving an excuse that minority schools have obtained stay on the proceedings. The government can always start RTE admission in schools other than the 300 odd schools claiming minority status. We have been fighting the opaque RTE admission process for years.”
He alleged, “The government has succumbed to pressure from private schools to allot them less RTE students”.
Another RTE activist Sandip Munjyasara said: “The government can keep aside RTE admissions in the 300 schools that are claiming minority status. However, nothing should stop it from going ahead with RTE admissions in rest of the schools.”
What educationists say
Schools put the blame on the ‘bad lot’ among them. A principal wishing to stay anonymous said, “Certain schools enter into an ‘arrangement’ with the DEO so that they have to absorb lesser number of RTE students. In fact, there are schools that have not been allotted even a single RTE student. How is it possible? For every RTE admission, the state government pays the school only Rs 10,000 even if the fee for regular student is more than Rs 1 lakh. The schools then pass the fee burden on parents of regular students.”
Raja Pathak, Director of Sattva Vikas School, said, “Several seats go vacant in some schools as there are not enough RTE applications in the locality where they are situated. We have intake of only 6 seats as we have only one division with 24 students.”
Lamiya Shums, Director of Anand Niketan School, Shilaj, said, “Density of population and demography determine the allocation of RTE seats besides the personal choice of parents. If 5 schools near their residence are shown in the Google map, obvious choice of parents would be to select the one that is near their residence.”
Manan Choksi, Executive Director of Ugdam School, said, “We have admitted students under RTE allotted to us and we have also asked for more students in the remaining quota.”
For Zebar School, Choksi added, “We have 10 seats vacant in Class 1 after accommodating RTE students. Also, we are not getting regular admission applications as the academic year has started. If RTE quota is not filled up, it will be a double whammy for us as we will neither get fee reimbursement from the government nor fee from normal admissions. This is a criminal wastage of seats.”
What education officials say
The DEO and District Primary Education Officer (DPEO) justify the large number of vacant seats to “choice-based allocation”. Mahesh Mehta, DPEO, said, “The allocation depends on choice of parents and geography. There’s nothing more to it.” Navneet Mehta, DEO (City), said, “Parents usually go for schools that have a reputation. For example, in Paldi area which has allotment capacity of only 30 students we received 1,800 applications. The key issue is selection made by parents and not whether less or more students are allotted admission in certain schools.”