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Mumbai: School violates RTE Act by interviewing kids, parents approach BMC

Updated on: 22 February,2024 07:06 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dipti Singh |

Yuva Sena leader alleges Prabhadevi’s Convent Girls’ High School flouted norms before; edu dept inspector to investigate matter

Mumbai: School violates RTE Act by interviewing kids, parents approach BMC

Convent Girls’ High School at Prabhadevi. Pic/Shadab Khan

Key Highlights

  1. Children continue to be interviewed and screened during school admissions
  2. Two parents filed complaints with the education department of BMC
  3. Parents have alleged that kids applying for admissions were made to face interviews

Children continue to be interviewed and screened during school admissions despite the Right to Education (RTE) Act banning these practices. Recently, two parents filed complaints with the education department of the BMC, alleging that their children were not only subjected to the interviews/screening process but also rejected by a reputed school in Prabhadevi.

Parents have alleged that kids applying for kindergarten admissions to the Convent Girls’ High School were made to face interviews/ screening processes in which they had to identify colours, shapes, fruits and vegetables and also recite rhymes. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 aims to ensure equitable access to education and explicitly prohibits schools from conducting screening procedures for children or parents during the admission process, as mandated in Section 13.

The parents with the help of Yuva Sena approached the BMC education officer and complained about the school. "This is not the first time the school violated rules. Earlier there was also a case where a temporary teacher was found to be taking money from parents for admission. How can the school conduct interviews for little children? Aren't they aware screening children for admission is banned under the RTE?," said Pradeep Sawant, Yuva Sena leader and former senate member of Mumbai University.

Parents’ version

Sachin Hirve, a parent who sought admission for his daughter in Junior KG, recounted, “After submitting our application, we were notified to attend a document review session at 9 am on February 12. Our turn arrived at 2.30 pm. Anticipating a shorter delay, we had not brought any food or refreshments, our daughter was left famished.”

According to parents, schools get around the rule by terming screenings as ‘interactions’ or ‘documents review’ and conducting oral interviews which leave no record. “Considering that they were inviting children for Junior KG admissions, a more welcoming and cheerful environment should have been created. The prolonged waiting period caused children to become irritable and anxious,” said another parent on the condition of anonymity.

According to Hirve, he opted for the school primarily because of its proximity to his residence. “My daughter is generally outgoing, especially around familiar people. However, when asked to recite rhymes and identify shapes during the admission process, she got nervous as the environment was unfamiliar, and the principal conducting the assessment was a stranger to her,” said Hirve. “I requested a few minutes from the principal but I was informed that this was not permitted. The admission was denied, with the justification that my daughter doesn’t talk. This kind of treatment can significantly impact a child’s confidence and morale,” he added.

A senior education officer emphasised that if the school is indeed conducting screening, appropriate action will be taken as it violates the RTE. “Admission should be offered on a first-come-first-served basis, or through a random selection process like a lottery. Preference can also be given to siblings,” the official said.

Principal Speak

Sister Asha Almeida, principal of Convent Girls’ High School, acknowledged that interviews had been conducted. She stated, "It is entirely false to claim that we rejected any student’s admission. On February 12, we called 40 applicants for interviews, all of whom were granted admission. “When informed of the prohibition against interviewing students for admission under the RTE Act, Sr Almeida responded, “If we don't conduct interviews, how will we assess the child’s communication skills? Just basic questions are asked.”

Sr Almeida attributed this to the actions of Sawant, alleging that he has been stirring up unnecessary issues. Sawant said, “We do not hold any personal grudge against the school. Parents bring their complaints to us, and we assist them. Furthermore, I want to emphasise that it is the responsibility of the education department to investigate if schools persist in screening children for admissions.” Parents, meanwhile, indicated their intention to lodge complaints with other education offices within a day or two. Confirming receipt of the complaint, Raju Tadvi, BMC education officer (private schools), said, “We will dispatch our inspector to investigate the matter.”

Feb 12
Day interviews were held

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