Will RTE be implemented this academic year?

K.C. Deepika
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Though the admission process has started, schools yet to hear from Government

Though the Right to Education (RTE) Act is expected to be implemented this academic year, it is business as usual for private schools in Bangalore.

Private school managements told The Hindu that they had not heard from the Government in this regard and had begun the admission process just as they had been doing in previous years. Most schools are due to open by the end of this month.

It, however, has emerged that most schools are aware of the Act.

Now, child rights activists are up in arms over the apparent government indifference and delay in implementing the RTE Act.

25% reservation

Rubina Farooq, principal, Prasiddhi School in Vasanthanagar, said that they had not received any information regarding the 25 per cent reservation for underprivileged children. In the absence of the communication from the Government, the admission procedure was continuing as usual.

B.R. Supreeth, secretary of the Oxford Group of Institutions, Nagarabhavi, said that though they had not yet received any communiqué from the Government, they were already following the spirit of the Act. “We admit more than 50 students from poor backgrounds every year, of whom about 25 are given full scholarship. The rest pay only half the fee.”

Anxious over delay

Child rights activists are concerned over the delay on the part of the Government in implementing the Act. Nagasimha G. Rao, associate director of the Child Rights Trust (CRT), narrated how a recent observatory tour with parents from a low-income background seeking admissions for their children in private schools revealed blatant violations of the provisions of the Act. “There were interviews, which are not allowed as per the Act, and the demand for donations is also rampant. The Government appears to be passive regarding the RTE Act, and activists can only put pressure for its implementation,” he said, calling for greater transparency in its implementation.

Stressing on the positive consequences of the implementation of the Act, he said instances of child labour would automatically reduce as more children are enrolled in schools.

Sixth draft

An official from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), which will play an important role in the implementation of the Act, said that the SSA had submitted the sixth draft of the Act to the Government. In the draft, the various apprehensions and recommendations of stakeholders from across the State had been taken into consideration, said the official, adding that the ball was now in the Government's court.

Child rights activists are apprehensive about the painfully slow pace with which the Government is moving on implementing the Act. They are also waiting for the Government to confirm whether the sixth is the final draft or not. However, the official was confident that the Act would come into effect this year.

When contacted, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri maintained that the Act would come into effect this year, and the order would be passed soon.

“The discussions are already over, and schools will have to follow the Act,” he said.

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