RTE task force flooded with complaints from parents
When Chand Pasha, a cook in a hotel in Kottur (Bellary district), tried to admit his daughter in a private school under the 25 per cent quota for underprivileged children under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the office staff at the school told him that he has to choose between a seat in a private school and benefits under the Bhagyalakshmi scheme.
“They told me her enrolment under the Bhagyalakshmi scheme would get cancelled if I put her in a private school,” said Mr. Pasha, speaking to The Hindu. He then called the RTE task force in Bangalore and got a clarification that the Bhagyalakshmi insurance scheme for the girl child of BPL families does not hinder admission in a private school.
Even as the process of giving applications for admissions under RTE quota is under way, several schools seem to be either ignorant of RTE clauses or are deliberately misguiding parents who are seeking admission for their children. Several parents have been calling the RTE task force, a joint forum of non-governmental organisations, seeking help.
“We have had complaints from parents who have been told by the school managements that there is a stay on the RTE, though the stay is only on minority schools,” said Nagasimha G. Rao, convener of the task force.
Gangadhar Reddy, programme coordinator of RTE, South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), said those seeking quota admissions in a private school in Nanjangudu were sent away saying that it was a minority school. “The Block Education Officer had declared that 24 seats in the same school were under RTE,” he said.
When the RTE task force carried out a random survey of 25 private schools in Bangalore to gauge their readiness on implementing the legislation, only 10 among them were willing to answer questions. “Many among those who answered questions were not even sure what the definition of a ‘neighbourhood’ under RTE is,” said Mr. Nagasimha.
In another blatant violation of RTE rules, which state that a child admitted under quota cannot be charged fees, a school in Gauribidanur admitted a child under the RTE with the condition that the parent pay the fees until the school gets reimbursement from the government. The parent, who did not wish to be named, said he had not got back the money yet.
On the other hand, there also seems to be an effort to build public opinion against the RTE quota in some schools. Manjunath, a businessman, told The Hindu that a school in Ramamurthynagar, where his son studies in upper kindergarten, had “warned” parents that admissions of those already studying in their school could be in peril if the classrooms get too crowded on account of children admitted under quota.
“This is an effort to build public opinion against the legislation by making it seem like it goes against the interest of a section of children,” said Niranjan Aradhya from the Centre of Child Law at the National Law School of India University. “It also goes against the law since Section 16 of the legislation says that a child once admitted cannot be either held back or expelled until he or she completes elementary education.”