State fails to define admission process for out-of-school Mumbai kids

After a survey revealed that 8,126 students in the city weren’t going to school, the state has asked institutes to admit the children under the Right To Education Act, but has issued no directives to schools or the BMC on how to accommodate them

A July 4 state-government survey revealed that 8,126 students in Mumbai are not in school. The next step, according to government officials, is for schools to admit such students who live in their vicinity, but there is no clarity on how the admission procedure needs to be executed or how these children, who may have lost touch, can be accommodated a month after the new academic session has already begun.

Also read: A day-long survey in Maharashtra to find out-of-school children

Teachers who conducted the July 4 state survey also filled out enrollment forms for the out-of-school children. However, the government has issued no directives on how these kids will be admitted. Pic/Shadab Khan
Teachers who conducted the July 4 state survey also filled out enrollment forms for the out-of-school children. However, the government has issued no directives on how these kids will be admitted. Pic/Shadab Khan

Just like the survey which was conducted without any training being given to those collecting the data schools are worried that the admissions process will be chaotic. On Saturday, around 14,000 teachers and education department employees were sent out to 100-200 households each to look for children who are currently not attending school and the reasons for the same.

They were also asked to fill out an enrollment form for those children. These forms will reach the BMC education office by today. According to Shambhavi Jogi, BMC education officer, once these forms are in place, the process to enroll students in nearby schools will begin. But, Jogi conceded, there are no guidelines as to how this process needs to be undertaken.

“We haven’t got any directives from the state government on what the next step should be,” said Jogi. “As of now, we are taking the initiative to ensure that these children, whose names have been listed under the out-of-school category, get admitted to schools as per the Right to Education (RTE) guidelines,” she added.

Just do it
Schools, on the other hand, are dreading another round of admissions without any official orders or directives from the state. “Even when the RTE quota admissions were first implemented in 2011, there was chaos because schools were simply asked to admit children, without any clear directives having been given.

Also Read: Only 11 of 4,000+ schools in Mumbai follow all RTE norms

It looks like admitting out-of-school children will end up being as problematic for schools,” said the principal of a school in Andheri (East). He added that they are still waiting to hear from the BMC about the process to admit children. However, when mid-day spoke to officials from the state education department, they said the onus of issuing the requisite directives lay with the local education officers.

“According to the RTE, the power to implement as well as punish schools for not following RTE rules and regulations is with the BMC and they have been told to ensure age- appropriate admissions for children who are not attending school,” said P R Pawar, deputy director (system analytics), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the body responsible for implementing the RTE in every state.

He added that it is the responsibility of schools to train children and admit them to a class appropriate to their age and ensure they don’t lag academically. Schools, however, are angry at this new job being laden upon them almost a month after the academic session has already begun. “Basically, the education department comes up with new ideas and expects schools to act on them.

We don’t run our schools on a whim. Training children who haven’t attended school to gel into the daily routine will also be a huge task. Students will also have to be counselled regularly and most schools in the city don’t have a counsellor.

What will such schools do?” asked a teacher from another state board school. As of now, the schools are waiting to hear from the BMC or the state education department to clear the confusion over the admissions.

RTE Act says

>> Schools as well as the local authority (BMC) should ensure that a child belonging to the weaker sections or disadvantaged group should not be segregated or discriminated against on school premises

>> No child shall be liable to pay any kind of fees or charges that may prevent him/her from pursuing and completing elementary education (Std VIII)

>> A child who hasn’t managed to complete education (for any reason) has the right to be admitted to a class appropriate to his/her age, in order to avoid the embarrassment of sitting with younger children

>> It’s the school’s responsibility to sensitise their students to these new entrants and avoid discrimination 

>> Regular counselling and training should be provided to the child to help him/her integrate in the routine classroom setting

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