While many parents said schools were unresponsive, schools cited poor response from parents

When Yogine Sai’s admission at SBOA Matriculation School was confirmed under the RTE Act in June, his parents — one, a worker at Ambattur Industrial Estate, and another, a housewife — could not contain their enthusiasm.

“There was no talk about paying money. The school gave us the textbooks as well. The feeling that my son is studying in such a big school is still sinking in,” said Yogine’s mother K. Indira.

However, Yogine, who benefited from the two rounds of admissions conducted in the city to fill the 25 per cent reserved seats, is part of a minority. According to official figures, of the 4,152 seats reserved under the RTE Act in the city (CBSE schools excluded), only 1,067 have been filled. This constitutes a mere 25.6 per cent of seats.

This year, two rounds of admissions were conducted in the State. In the first round, schools were to issue common admission forms, prescribed by the school education department, free of cost, from May 3-9. Schools also had to conduct admissions as per a common time-table.

However, only 6,128 students were admitted in entry-level classes across the State. While many parents said schools were unresponsive, schools cited poor response from parents.

A second round of admissions was conducted, and date for admissions was extended to June 20. Instead of approaching schools individually, the application forms were given to parents and routed to the schools through the chief education officer after verification.

In Chennai, the forms were issued at Saidapet Government Model Higher Secondary School. Yogine was one of the students who got admission through this procedure.

However, some parents such as Lakshman (name changed), a watchman, were still unsure of the status of their applications. While those at the centre said earlier that Lakshman’s son was one of the beneficiaries, the parents were not aware of the development. Lakshman has now secured a seat for his child in the same school, through the general category, and sought financial assistance from a flat owner in the building where he works.

“Lakshman submitted the application in Saidapet along with the other documents. We were told it would be forwarded to the school. When he went to check on the status of the application, he was told it had been sent to the school. But the school said they knew nothing about it,” said Lakshman’s benefactor.

School authorities were unavailable for comment.

Another parent, a resident of Vyasarpadi, who got admission for her child in the first round said though they were not asked to pay tuition fee, close to Rs. 8,000 was collected from them under various heads.

“We were not given a receipt, so I don’t know how to prove it,” she said.

An official from the directorate of matriculation schools said they were in the process of verifying details of all the admissions made under the RTE Act.

A. Narayanan, an activist, said a break-up of students admitted under ‘economically weaker sections’ and ‘disadvantaged groups’ must be made available.