While one would think that the fact that a kid’s parents have not attended school would be all the more reason for the government to give him or her admission under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, that is exactly what is holding back five-year-old Sadiya Sheikh.
Sadiya and her mother Zehrunisha are hoping for some miracle so that her admission goes through
Residents of Bhagat Singh Nagar slums in Goregaon (W), Sadiya and her two older brothers are first-generation learners. Their parents, who have never been to school, are striving to ensure that their kids, at least, get proper education.
Seeking admission for their only daughter in a private school under the RTE reservation quota, Sadiya’s parents were surprised when the online admission process required at least one of them to submit a school-leaving certificate for their daughter’s admission form to be accepted.
“We were told that we needed to submit a caste certificate as well as our school-leaving certificates. We have tried everything possible to get hold of a caste certificate, but there’s no way we’ll get a school-leaving certificate,” said Sadiya’s mother Zehrunisha Sheikh.
Sadiya’s brothers are studying at a low-cost school in their slum and the parents are keen on sending their daughter to a “nice” English medium school.
Last year, too, the Sheikhs had run from pillar to post trying to get their daughter admitted to an English-medium school under the RTE Act, but were turned away. Sadiya was finally enrolled in a small pre-primary school in Goregaon, which is run by an NGO.
This year, they have been trying to get her admitted to Std I in a private school, but were disappointed when a senior BMC education department officer told them that admission under the RTE Act would not be possible and that they should send their daughter to a BMC school instead.
“She is 5 years old and an appropriate candidate for Std I. If she doesn’t get a seat this year, she won’t be eligible for admission under the RTE reservation quota because admissions to schools can only happen at the entry level (kindergarten or Class I),” said Avisha Kulkarni, from the NGO Desh Seva Samiti, which helped close to a hundred children in filing their admission forms online for the RTE quota seats.
“I don’t understand why the education department is seeking caste and school-leaving certificates of the parents when they have an income certificate to prove that they fall under the economically backward classes. Sadiya is eligible in every way to get admission under this quota,” added Kulkarni. The Sheikhs, meanwhile, are still hoping for some miracle that helps Sadiya get into a good school under the RTE quota.