Lack of directives on implementation of several clauses of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, has annoyed school managements in Mumbai, while education rights activists blame the lack of monitoring for chaos in admissions.
In a city where admission fees in private institutions are sky-high, the demand for enrolment in ‘famous’ and convent schools is also increasing. According to sources in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), there have been instances in the past of parents, unable to get admission under the general quota, having produced bogus income certificates to sneak their child in under the RTE Act.
“We get applications from parents who do not fulfil the norms of the Act. We have no idea of what we should do if 25 per cent seats are not filled. There is no clarity on the funding for these students,” said Amol Dhamdhere, honorary secretary of the Indian Education Society (IES).
He said that at a time when municipal schools were closing down because of various problems, the government, instead of improving management, was trying to shift the responsibility to private institutions through the RTE.
When The Hindu contacted principals of several private schools, they were unanimous in their view that there was no clear direction from the State government on implementation of the Act. Many complained about lack of clarity among parents about the Act.
Child rights activists like Nitin Wadhavani reckon that the RTE is the government’s effort to shy away from its responsibility of giving education and to privatise the sector. “Who monitors the implementation? The schools are left to take their own decisions, and this could also give rise to fraud by parents,” he says.
However, SSA Director Anil Kale says there is no confusion. “The guidelines from the Union government are clear, and if they have any problem they can ask us about it.” Authorities ensure that 25 per cent reservation is implemented in all schools under the Act.
Sanjay Dabhade, convener of the Reservation Right Defence Committee, argues that the private schools are unwilling to let go of 25 per cent of their income, so they are making such excuses. “The RTE can be implemented more effectively if the admission process is centralised. It will ensure admission to all and none will be left out.”