Mumbai: RTE has been misinterpreted, says Unaided Schools' Forum

According to the forum, RTE admission should either be for kindergarten or Std I, but the education department is expecting schools to provide vacant seats for both

A week after the first round of admissions under the Right to Education (RTE) Act was conducted, the BMC education department has been flooded with complaints from parents claiming that schools are not cooperating with the admission procedure.

This year, while the number of schools part of the RTE process went down to 280, the number of seats shot up to over 11,000. Representation pic/Thinkstock
This year, while the number of schools part of the RTE process went down to 280, the number of seats shot up to over 11,000. Representation pic/Thinkstock

However, the Unaided Schools’ Forum claims that the issue is not the schools’ non-compliance of providing admission under RTE. On Friday, the forum has highlighted an error in the process being followed in the city, claiming that the education department has not interpreted the provisions under RTE correctly.

“Section 12(1)(c) of the RTE amended in the state says that schools that have pre-primary sections (kindergarten) should follow the entry level admission in pre-primary section only. However, the education department is expecting these schools to allow admission in Std I as well, which is flouting the provisions of the Act,” said S C Kedia, honorary secretary of Unaided Schools’ Forum.

Kedia said that many schools have received allotment letters by parents, provided to them by the education department, for admission in kindergarten as well as Std I. “This is causing a lot of confusion and parents are unduly blaming the school,” he added.

The Right to Education Act, introduced in 2009, asks schools to set aside 25 per cent seats in Std I for children from socially and economically backward classes of the society. When the Act was introduced in Maharashtra, the government tweaked the rule, and stated that schools will set aside the seats at entry level (either kindergarten or Std I) for the same purpose.

In 2014, the RTE process was held online in Mumbai and Pune for the first time. In Mumbai, 313 schools were part of the process and over 7,000 seats were made available. Strangely, this year, while the number of schools has gone down to 280, over 11,000 seats are available for the quota admissions.

BMC speak
When mid-day contacted Shambhavi Jogi, the BMC education officer, she said that the reason why number of seats have gone up, is because both 25 per cent seats in kindergarten, as well as vacant seats in Std I of all schools have been added in the RTE admission process this year.

“The latest government resolution highlighted how schools had not revealed all their vacant seats in the entry level classes in the 2012-13 academic year (the year when RTE admissions were first introduced).

There are schools that may have small batches for kindergarten but almost double capacity in Std I, which means that these schools have vacant seats which can be added in the RTE quota,” said Jogi, adding that the latest GR states the vacant seats which were not disclosed in 2012-13 will not be added to the list. “Therefore, some schools will receive applications for both kindergarten as well as Std I for admissions,” Jogi said.

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