The Department of School Education has framed the rules for implementing the Right To Education Act in a manner that is detrimental to the interests of students from economically weaker and disadvantaged sections, who are the intended beneficiaries of this landmark legislation, charges Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s youth wing secretary V. Easwaran.

The Department had refused to upload on to its website the number of vacant seats in private schools under the RTE Act quota. Such seats must not be filled by other candidates for up to six months. Further, the Department has also stated that students admitted under this Act will not be entitled to receive Government incentives such as free uniforms, notebooks and laptops.

The Department of School Education gave these replies in its response to a Right To Information application filed by Mr. Easwaran.

If the information on vacant seats were not provided, how would the parents know which school to approach, he questioned.

Also, the students admitted in private schools under the quota would be from the weaker and disadvantaged students.

As such, denying them the government incentives was an unfair decision. “The Act says orphans must be given preference in admission. How will these students get books and uniforms if the government refuses to provide?”

Further, the RTE Act mandated private schools to set aside 25 per cent of their total seats for the RTE Act quota.

Tamil Nadu had not framed any rules on how the RTE Act quota must be filled up. While ten categories were eligible to apply, there was no measure to prevent any single group from monopolising the admissions. The neighbouring States of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala have come out with a “quota within the quota” but the TN Department of School Education had said that a similar move was not under consideration.

Also, even though the Department had stated that private schools would be reimbursed the fees of students admitted under RTE Act quota by September and March every academic year, no funds have been released for the last two years in which the RTE Act was being implemented. Without the reimbursement, private schools would be reluctant to admit students in the coming years, he added.

“A majority of the rules framed under the RTE Act in Tamil Nadu are detrimental to the interests of the students from weaker sections. The Government must consider taking proactive steps to ensure the benefits of this legislation reached all sections of the society,” Mr. Easwaran said.

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