Maharashtra gets poor report card for RTE admissions

The RTE Resource Centre at IIM-Ahmedabad says the confusion over minimum age criteria for admissions and zero reimbursement from the government to schools for providing free admissions, are the reasons for this

A survey of 10 states with the highest number of RTE admissions (including Maharashtra) shows that the state has fared very poorly with only 19.35% seats being filled in 2013-14.

RTE admissions for the academic year 2015-16 have now been stalled in the state of Maharashtra. Picture for representation
RTE admissions for the academic year 2015-16 have now been stalled in the state of Maharashtra. Picture for representation

While state officials have highlighted that the figures went up to about 32% in 2014-15, it’s still no match for states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, where the RTE intake in 2013-14 was about 88.24% and 69.38% in 2014-15. “The RTE admissions have bettered post the introduction of online admissions in certain cities, including Mumbai.

As of now, the problem areas are smaller districts like Beed, Buldhana, Sindhudurg and some others, where entry level admissions are still lagging and the numbers are very small,” said P R Pawar, deputy director (system analytics) of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

According to figures released by SSA, in the academic year 2014-15, Pune had done better than any other city in the state in ensuring admissions to students from economically and socially backward classes under RTE’s 25% quota for free admissions at entry level.

Bad performance
Keeping the poor implementation of RTE in mind, Centre Square Foundation a Delhi-based organisation put together data in order to understand the loopholes in the implementation process.

Consolidated data from the survey on RTE admissions, based on the figures from 2013-14 academic year, was sent across to RTE Resource Centre at IIM-Ahmedabad for a through study.

This report highlights the main cause for this performance in the state as the confusion over minimum age criteria for admissions as well as the zero reimbursement that has come from the government to schools for providing free admissions.

School principals have time and again pointed out the unapproachable attitude of officials from the state education department, especially when schools demand reimbursement. “Our school has been confirming admissions under the RTE quota for the past two years but till date no reimbursement has come from the government.

This, despite the fact that when we have requested for reimbursement, the only reply we get is that we are not following all rules, which include structural changes to the school building,” said the principal of a school in south Mumbai.

She added that many schools that have old structures cannot bring about structural changes, such as building ramps, providing playgrounds, etc, and on these lines, they are denied the reimbursement. “How does the government expect us to run the school for free?” she asked.

The IIM-A study on RTE admission figures highlights the need for clarity in many nuances of the RTE rules. Professor Ankur Sarin from IIM-A said, “While Maharashtra has increased seat-fill rate 10-fold from 2012-13, the implementation of this provision in the state is still lower than the national average.

Our report carefully analyses the implementation of this provision across various parameters to better understand the challenges leading to ineffective implementation and shares potential solutions.”

Inconsistencies
The report also highlights a fair amount of inconsistency between the District Information System for Education (DISE) data, and data on the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan website, state websites, and even the data from responses to RTI queries that were filed during the making of the report.

What’s worse is that RTE admissions for the academic year 2015-16 have now been stalled in the state of Maharashtra. “Basically the status of children who depend on admission through RTE will never improve, because there’s a gross lack of co-ordination between various departments.

The rules and regulations are very vague and schools are playing on these loopholes to ensure that they don’t have to provide free admissions to anybody, which is unfair to children,” said S Narayan, from Anudanit Shiksha Bachao Andolan, a social group fighting for the rights of children.

At present, the Bombay High Court has asked civic authorities to finish the admissions process and ensure all students get admission. However, nothing to that effect has taken place as yet.

 

Seat fill rate in Maharashtra
2012-13 - 1.81%
2013-14 - 19.35%
2014-15 - 32%

Seat fill rate for 10 states (2013-14)
Madhya Pradesh - 88.24%
Rajasthan - 69.38%
Gujarat - 42.60%
Karnataka - 25.25%
Punjab - 23.67%
Haryana - 19.85%
Maharashtra - 19.35%
Tamil Nadu - 11.25%
Uttar Pradesh - 3.62%
Andhra Pradesh - 0.2%

Slow admissions
In 2014-15 over 6,310 seats from 544 schools were confirmed in Pune under the RTE admission quota. In Mumbai, however, of the 8,000-odd seats available for admissions, barely 2,000 were filled.

(*Source: Central Square Foundation, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, District Information System for Education)

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