Schools snubbing applicants; not announcing number of free seats

Despite the increased awareness among parents this year than last year about free seats available in schools under the Right to Education Act, some parents have reported sour experience.

A parent of a boy from Urwa had to return disappointed a few days ago from a school in Kodialbail when she went to inquire about the free seats available for economically weaker section in the school for first standard under the RTE Act. The school principal sent the parent away saying her son could opt for education in a government school rather than a private school.

The parent went to the office of the Block Education Officer to state her experience. The Block Education Officer C. Lokesh then called the school management and asked them to treat applicants with more respect. As many as 44 free seats are available in this school. As on Thursday this school had received six applications.

Another school in Attavar sent back a parent who had come for application for the free seat available in the school. The parent was told to come in February, which is actually the month when submitted applications are scrutinised. As many as 22 free seats are available in this school.

These are some of problems faced by people at some schools when they have gone to apply for admission of their children to private schools (except minority institutions) for the 25 per cent of free seats offered under the RTE. As many as 831 seats are available in 68 private unaided schools in the two education blocks of the city. Details of the private schools and the number of free seats offered are available at the offices of BEOs near Jyothi Circle and in Bolar.

Apart from children from economically backward communities, these seats are also meant for orphans, for children from nomadic community, HIV affected children, and street children.

Not on notice board

A visit to as many as 10 schools showed only few of them had notified on the notice board the number of free seats available in the school. A few schools such as the Besant English School in Kodialbail had taken the initiative to spread the word about seats available in their school. “We sent out messages through their students and also the staff at the Anganwadi way back in October.” In the last 10 days, the school received 11 applications for seven seats available in the school. “Compared to last year, people are more informed about the RTE this year,” the headmistress said.

Process of issuance of applications started on January 7. Parents have to submit applications by February 8 to submit applications. Mr. Sudhakara and Mr. Lokesh said programmes had been conducted for principals and correspondents of the private schools teaching them the way in which they ought to deal with applications. Schools had been asked to publicise the number of free seats in their schools. The two officials said emphasis was on schools that had not enrolled students.

“We are closely following the process. If any school is found wanting in the implementation of this rule, we will certainly recommend action against such schools,” Mr. Lokesh said. The two BEOs have been keeping on track on the daily basis the number of applications received by the private schools.

Activist Kamala Gowda said the government needed to address the disparity between the demand for free seats and its availability in a school in a neighbourhood. Ms. Gowda said there were many families from economically weaker section in Chembugudde.

But there were only six seats available in the school in Thokottu which was the nearest one. The schools within one km of Chembugudde were minority institutions that are not covered under the 25 per cent quota.

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