Principals to face the heat over quota for poor students

Published: Nov 27, 2012, 06:57 IST | Niranjan Medhekar |

Officials of the state education department are contemplating action against private schools for failing to admit students under the 25% quota, which is reserved for students from economically weaker sections, under the RTE Act

Taking a stern note of private schools still not implementing the Right To Education (RTE) Act, which says that 25 per cent of the seats in private schools must be reserved for poor students, the state education department is mulling action against schools that don’t follow the rule.

Clearing doubts: Additional chief secretary of state education department, J S Saharia, speaks at the meeting yesterday

Additional chief secretary of state education department J S Saharia, while speaking at a meeting in the city yesterday, made it clear that principals of privately aided schools would be booked if they fail to implement the RTE Act, especially the 25 per cent reservation for weaker section students for the upcoming academic year.

“Under the RTE Act, every school in the state, whether it is SSC, ICSE or CBSE board, have to make sure that during the admission procedure 25 per cent seats should be reserved for students at the entry level. If any irregularities or violations are found, the principal of the school will have to face action,” said Saharia.

During his visit to the city, Saharia conducted a special meeting of school principals at Balavadi yesterday. Principals of many reputed schools attended the meeting. Saharia also personally answered queries and doubts raised by the principals. As many schools in the city are unaided or come under the private minority section, principals raised the question whether they come under the RTE Act. Saharia replied, “Besides government schools all aided, unaided, private, minority-aided schools come under the RTE Act, and have to reserve 25 per cent seats to needy students. For minority unaided schools, the government will soon clear whether these schools would have to follow the RTE or not.”

In many private minority schools, primary section is unaided, while secondary and higher secondary section are aided. So when the principals asked whether they are also bound to reserve admissions, government officials present at the meeting cleared that if the institution is getting a single rupee grant from the government, then it comes under the RTE and has to follow all the provisions mentioned in the Act.

Many principals at the meeting were not satisfied with the way the state secretary has directed them to implement the RTE. “The spirit of the Act is correct, but the execution by the state government is terrible. The officials are dictating to us as if they want to take revenge,” said one of the principal’s.  “Last year, our school tried to implement the 25 per cent quota for weaker section students during our nursery admissions.

The next academic year admissions are starting in the first week of December, and we have already displayed all information regarding nursery admissions, along with how many seats are reserved under the RTE quota at our entrance gate,” said Philomena Gaikwad, headmistress at Paranjape Vidya Mandir.

Fee Regulation Act still a distant dream
The state government’s proposed long pending fee regulation bill is still a distant dream for the state, as J S Saharia said that the state government is noncommittal on the proposed act. “The bill of the proposed Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fee Collection) Act is at the president’s office waiting for formal approval,” said Saharia while answering the question raised by mediapersons yesterday.

When asked whether the act would be enacted in the upcoming academic year, he said that he is ‘hopeful’. The state legislature passed the bill of proposed fee regulation act in July 2011. The proposed act has a provision that every school has to declare its fees eight months prior to start of the admission process. According to activists working in the education sector, the act has the power to curb illegal activities, if any, by education institutions. But, since last year the bill of the proposed act is awaiting approval at the president’s office.  

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