Maharashtra: All entry-level admissions in schools set to go online

State education minister Vinod Tawde and senior officials in the education department are keen on taking the process online, to curb malpractices and reduce paperwork

The ordeal of getting your kids admitted to a school may get much less onerous as early as next year, with the state government planning to take all entry-level admissions to schools online.

Activists say online admissions will help bring parity in the procedure so that parents and students are not targeted by school managements. Representation pic
Activists say online admissions will help bring parity in the procedure so that parents and students are not targeted by school managements. Representation pic

Despite the online admissions procedure for the 25% RTE quota seats hitting several roadblocks (see box), education minister Vinod Tawde and senior officials in the education department seem very keen on getting the new admissions system off the ground as early as possible.

State education minister Vinod Tawde
State education minister Vinod Tawde

“The software is being prepared to conduct all entry-level admissions across the state via an online process. Once this software is ready and approved by the government, we will have a clearer picture. The details are still sketchy so far,” said Mahavir Mane, state education director.

For the past couple of years, the state education department has been insisting on a uniform admission schedule to be followed in all schools, across all boards. This has not gone down well with non state-board schools, since most of them start their entry-level admission process by December-January, while state board schools conduct admissions after March.

“This year, we might not see admissions for all entry-level students going online because some schools have already started the admission procedure. Schools which are not happy with online admissions have failed to see how taking the process online will make their lives much easier. Not only will parents be at an advantage, but schools will also benefit as their paperwork will be reduced,” said a senior education department official.

First step
Activists have been demanding a centralised admissions system for entry-level admissions for some time now, especially since Maharashtra doesn’t even have a fee regulation bill or other such regulations in place. They now have reason to be cautiously optimistic.

“First of all, the state needs to ensure that all schools adopt the online admissions process, including ICSE, CBSE and international schools. The aim is to bring about parity in the admissions procedure so that parents and students are not targeted by school managements,” said Jayant Jain, president of Forum for Fairness in Education (FFE).

He added that a similar model was applied in Delhi a few years ago, but it failed miserably due to the various quotas. “It will be a difficult task as no other state has applied such rules. But, doing so is the need of the hour in Maharashtra,” added Jain.

Minister speak
State education minister Vinod Tawde told mid-day that the online admissions would help the government streamline the process as well as curb admission malpractices in schools by bringing in transparency. He said the department was trying its best to start the system as early as possible. “We may be able to start it in the coming session if things fall in place,” said Tawde.

Asked about online RTE admissions, Tawde said extending it to other parts of Maharashtra would check misuse by the minority institutions, which flouted norms by ‘selling’ the vacant seats to students from non-minority quota. “They need to seek permission for allotting vacant seats, if any. The online system will give us control over such frauds.”

Tawde said the decision was taken after receiving many complaints. “I know many institutions that are cheating the poor students, and I will ensure they are punished.”

RTE fail
Admission to RTE quota seats in Mumbai and Pune cities had gone online last year and the process had hit many roadblocks. Of the 8,000-odd seats available for admission in 313 schools in Mumbai division, more than 50% remained empty as many students who were allotted seats in certain schools were not given admission by the school managements.

To make matters worse, some students were also allotted seats in schools very far from their residences, as the online system only took into consideration the aerial distance and not actual distance by road between the schools and their houses. “We have taken all errors into consideration and reworked the system.

This time around, the plan is to start RTE admissions online at all divisional headquarters and, based on the complaints we get related to RTE admissions, we will take a call on other cities,” said an education official. The schedule for RTE quota admissions will be released within a week as the education department is awaiting clearances from the state.

A schedule for other admissions will also be released. “The schedule should be released within a week. This time around, schools will not have to wait until after vacations to conduct admissions,” said education director Mahavir Mane.

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