A total of 1,994 seats – 126 for pre-primary level and the rest for Class I admissions – have been reserved in 170 private schools across Mangalore district

Even as Dakshina Kannada prepares to begin the admissions – a one-month process that starts on Tuesday – into private schools under the Right To Education Act for the academic year 2014-15, there is optimism that the quota of reserved seats may, finally, be filled this time.

“We will fill up 100 per cent of the seats,” said Moses Jayashekhar, Deputy Director of Public Instruction (DDPI).

The optimism is unnatural, considering that over the past two years, the number of applications has been far lower than the number of seats available. From admissions into just 46.5 per cent of the reserved seats during its maiden year, the education scheme saw 69 per cent of the seats being filled last academic year.

In 2012-13, 764 students were admitted under RTE in 145 schools against 826 applications received for the 1,645 reserved seats. The next year, there were 154 participating schools and 1,180 students admitted for 1,709 reserved seats – 1,421 applications were received.

This academic year, a total of 1,994 seats – 126 for pre-primary level and the rest for Class I admissions – have been reserved in 170 private schools across the district.

With 990 seats in 82 schools, Mangalore taluk – that is, educational blocks of Mangalore North, Mangalore South and Moodbidri – have the bulk of the reserved seats. Campaigns specifically targeting this section have been launched, as 22 out of the 33 schools that had not received any applications last year were in Mangalore city.

With nine schools offering 86 pre-primary and only two Class I seats, Sullia block has the least options for economically-backward families (annual income less than Rs. 3.5 lakh).

On Monday, the list of schools and seat reservation – 30 per cent for Scheduled Caste, 6 per cent Scheduled Tribe, and the rest under General – will be put up in private schools and Block Educational Offices. Application forms will be available from Tuesday until February 8. The admissions this year sees numerous procedural changes and an intensified awareness campaign.

The handling of the information disbursement and grievance redressal mechanism has been altered. Over the past two years, the rate of rejection of applications had doubled from 7.5 per cent to 16.95 per cent – primarily due to improper documentation or late submission, where the time-consuming review process was through the DDPI and Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officer.

“Instead, this year, the Block Education Officer can take the decision immediately. Moreover, we have informed the Tahsildhars in advance about issuing certificates – which were the prime reason for rejection,” said Mr. Jayashekhar.

There has also been a change in the method of selection of seats.

This year, seats will be given on priority basis to children based on the family’s income (lesser than Rs. 1 lakh annually), while the rest applicants will be on lottery basis (a system used hitherto for all applications), said officials.

With television advertisements and a direction to private schools to contact parents in the area, the DDPI said: “Throughout the month there will be programmes to deliberate on the guidelines, while this year, an officer has been placed in charge of four schools for effective monitoring.”

Udipi

A total of 1,076 seats have been reserved for students from deprived and weaker sections of society for pre-primary and Class I in the 75 non-minority private unaided schools in the district under the Right to Education Act for 2014-15.

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