Issuing of school admission forms under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, began in the city on Friday.
However, very few institutions received applications from interested parents. Many schools were closed for the holidays. As per the RTE Act, 25 per cent of seats in every school must be reserved for children from disadvantaged groups.
The director of matriculation schools, who is also the chief State nodal officer to oversee the implementation of the 25 per cent reservation, said in a press release, there had been complaints that some private schools were not issuing admission forms under the RTE Act. He warned of legal action against erring schools.
On April 1, a government order was issued to private, non-minority, unaided schools in the State to ensure compliance with the RTE Act.
On Friday, P.S. Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Mylapore displayed the admission schedule on its notice board and received four applications.
B. Purushottam, principal of Everwin Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Kolathur, said he received 27 applications. Most other schools reported fewer numbers. Just a handful of institutions prominently displayed admission schedules on school gates and notice boards.
The principal of a matriculation school in Nungambakkam said since general admissions in her institute included students from all sections of society, she did not issue separate forms for admissions under the RTE Act.
The principal of a CBSE school said since their academic year began on April 1, admission procedures were completed in March and 25 per cent of seats filled as per RTE norms.
“We admitted 80 children under the RTE Act this year,” the principal said. However, most of the quota applicants came from affluent backgrounds, he said, adding the purpose of the provision was not met.
The principal of a matriculation school in Anna Nagar said nobody had approached her for applications on Friday. “We will not deny applications to anybody,” said the principal. May 9 is the last date to issue application forms under the RTE Act.
A. Narayanan, convenor, Forum for Right to Education, said the government must create widespread awareness about the Act so its provisions reach the intended beneficiaries.
“There is also some fear and hesitation in the weaker sections. They are wary of applying to big, private schools,” he said.
According to the RTE Act, disadvantaged groups include persons from SC and ST categories, socially and educationally backward classes or other such groups that are at a disadvantage due to gender or social, cultural, economical, geographical and linguistic factors.
The Tamil Nadu Rules add: a child who is an orphan, affected with HIV virus, a transgender or the child of a transgender are eligible for provisions under the RTE Act.
Children of parents or guardians whose income is lower than Rs. 2 lakh per annum qualify as ‘belonging to weaker sections.’