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No takers for 14,000 seats in Mumbai schools

The 25 per cent quota for underprivileged children in private schools has been cause of much hope and despair for the stakeholders. However, here’s yet another reason why not too many children from economically weaker sections will be seen sharing space in city schools -- according to schools, inadequate awareness among parents has left seats vacant in schools. School principals also believe that lesser-sought-after schools are seeing fewer admissions in the quota. Out of 17,205 seats in city schools, only 3,280 have been filled under the 25 per cent quota as mandated by Right To Education (RTE).

In South Mumbai schools, only 556 out of 1,429 seats have been filled. In schools in northern Mumbai, 1,186 out of 8,476 seats have been occupied and in the western zone, around 1,100 seats out of 4,000 have been filled. In Navi Mumbai, only 438 out of 3,300 seats are full. The quota is not applicable to unaided minority schools.

Amol Dhamdhere, vice president, Indian Education Society, said, “Not many parents are aware of the quota under RTE. The education department itself doesn’t have adequate knowledge about this rule. More so, the admission process was complete by the time the education department declared the quota. To add to it all, there were far too many delays in the process then on.”

Najma Kazi, principal of Anjuman-I-Islam’s Saif Tyabji Girls’ High school and Jr College of Arts and Science, said, “There is a lot of ambiguity about the RTE’s rules. To add to that, most parents throng the more famous schools, which has led to lesser admissions in other, lesser-known schools.”

NB Chavan, deputy director, school education, said, “We don’t know why the quota seats have not been filled up. However, the deadline is July 31, so some more admissions may take place. We will have to meet education inspectors to know the response to the 25 per cent quota.”

Navi Mumbai fared no better. Last year, the poor response to the quota in the area was blamed on the fact that the notification reached schools in the later half of May. This year, because the notification was issued in March, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) expected a better response.

Raj Aloni, principal of Ramsheth Thakur Public School, Kharghar, said, “We have 40 seats in our schools for 25 per cent quota, but hardly any students have come for admissions.”

A senior officer from the education board in Navi Mumbai said that the quota was applicable in 145 private schools in the satellite city. He said, “We put up banners, sent out circulars and briefed school principals, too. We don’t know why parents have not taken advantage of this benefit.” 

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