There is not much control over private schools in Dakshina Kannada: D'Souza

At a meeting held here on Right to Education (RTE), lack of awareness on the implementation of RTE and its benefits were highlighted on Sunday.

Lack of government control on the fees charged by private schools in Dakshina Kannada and their calendar of events were also pointed out.

Renny D'Souza, Dakshina Kannada district convenor of Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL), said: “There was a need to create awareness among people that children belonging to economically backward section of society could also join schools following the 25 per cent reservation laid down by the recent Supreme Court judgment.”

The RTE implementation should start immediately as admissions begin after April 30, he said.

However, he said, it was not clear on how the 25 per cent seats should be split between students of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and those with HIV. If there were 10 seats and 20 applicants, how could schools decide on who to give the seat keeping in mind the principles of social justice, he asked.

The RTE guidelines should also define what areas were included in the neighbourhood schools.

He said that the 25 per cent reservation for children from economically backward section of society was applicable only for Class I.

Appeal likely

There is a possibility that private schools would appeal against the Supreme Court order. For two to three years, private schools would resist, he said.

P.V. Mohan, Congress leader, said that Mangalore should take the lead in the State. The School Betterment Committee and the School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) should involve themselves in this process, he said.

Mr. D'Souza said that there is not much control over private schools in Dakshina Kannada.

He said that fee charged by them should be put up on notice boards.

In November 2011, a circular issued by the State's Education Department (separate from the Right to Education, he clarified) was issued saying that schools should make public the calendar of events in the admission process including the number of seats available and the selected students.

According to RTE activists and CACL members, most private schools in the State were not following the guidelines. Parents did not know the details and so had not resisted, he said.

The same circular mentioned a toll-free number where people could clarify whatever was required. However, the calls went to the Deputy Director of Public Instruction (DDPI) and the caller was directed to the Block Education Officer (BEO) and the call was charged. There must be a vigilance committee or a visiting taskforce to make spot-checks in schools at the taluk level. The CACL has written to the DC, he said.

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