Scarce RTE quota seats in private schools disappoint parents
Arun Kumar (name changed), an electrician who earns just a little over Rs. 3,000 a month , is thinking of raising a loan to put his six-year-old son in a private school. This is thanks to the big hopes he pinned on one provision of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009, which has now been belied.
Mr. Kumar thought that the 25 per cent RTE quota in private schools meant for “children belonging to weaker section and disadvantaged group in the neighbourhood” would ensure his son admission in a “big” school. He had applied to five private unaided schools.
After months of running around to various government offices for necessary certificates, apart from the office of the Block Education Office (BEO) and various private schools, he is now a crushed man. His son has not secured a seat in any of the schools. “Now I will take a loan and send him to a private school as I had promised him that he would be studying in a big school,” he told The Hindu.
Mr. Kumar is one among the several disappointed parents who have failed to get seats in private unaided schools under the RTE quota, with demand higher than availability of seats. As per the Education Department data, 42,802 applications were received in Bangalore South, North and Rural education districts for the 30,949 available seats. Interestingly the demand for seats under the RTE quota seems to be more in Bangalore Rural than the urban pockets.
Officials from the Education Department, however, point out that the demand seems more inflated than it is because parents have given multiple applications to several schools. The case of Mr. Kumar also points to this trend.
A senior official from the Deputy Director of Public Instruction (North) office said that 64 schools in the North 3 range had not received even a single application. Nagasimha G. Rao, convener of the RTE task force, said: “While there is a huge demand for some private schools, there is none for others. We will write a letter to the government asking that applicants who have not got seats in certain schools should be accommodated wherever there is vacancy.”
Parents left stranded
When The Hindu spoke to some of the parents whose children did not secure seats under the RTE quota, most said they did not have any alternative plan as they were completely depending on the RTE quota to get admissions into private schools for the academic year 2013-2014.
A parent who applied to two schools in HSR Layout said: “We ran from pillar to post to get our income and caste certificate. Now, that we have not got admission, we do not know what to do.”
Niranjanaradhya V.P., fellow at the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore, said that these trends were “against the spirit of the Act”.
He added that the 25 per cent quota was “state-sponsored privatisation” which would go against public education. Commissioner for Public Instruction S.R. Umashankar said: “Parents are free to make their decision. However, children who did not obtain admissions under the RTE can definitely be given seats in government schools.”