The Right to Education (RTE) Act’s provision for 25 per cent reservation for underprivileged children in private schools has left the managements of these schools jittery. Ironically, schools run by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) too are worried about the law’s implications.
Speaking to The Hindu, B. Govindaraju, chairperson of the BBMP Standing Committee on Education and Sports, admitted that BBMP schools face a piquant situation with the prospect of children from disadvantaged groups opting to join private schools under the quota. The BBMP now has to pull up its socks and it is working on an improvisation drive in its schools in a bid to rise to the challenge.
“BBMP spends nearly Rs. 20,000 on the education of every child, which includes taking care of academics, lunch, uniforms, books and bags. That apart, no private institution has highly qualified teachers like in our schools,” he said and added that the awareness drive, which will start in December, will hopefully increase admissions.
The headmistress of a BBMP school, who didn’t want her name published, admitted that there was a marginal dip in admissions to Class I in her school. “Although we have qualified faculty, they lack training in English which is something most parents are looking for. Apart from that, I feel that if the BBMP gives importance to primary schools like they do for high schools and colleges and also introduce English-medium, there could be no stopping the corporation schools from surging ahead. But right now this seems unlikely,” she said.
Lifeline for the poor
Narasamma, headmistress of a BBMP school in Tasker Town, is more optimistic. “Corporation schools are the lifeline of the poor who want quality education free. We even provide food, clothing and books free.” She said her school has reported a slight increase in the number of admissions into Class I this year.
Vanajakshamma, parent of Class I student Sulekha, said: “We are daily wage labourers who want to educate our daughter. Our income is just enough for our food. It is impossible to pay for expensive uniform and books of private schools. Also, in the corporation school, my daughter gets everything from education, books, uniform and even mid-day meals. This relieves us of these burdens.”