With the Karnataka government bringing in amendments to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act), which prioritised government over private schools, admissions of children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups under 25% RTE reservation seats has seen a decline since 2019.
Out of 15,373 seats available under RTE quota in Karnataka in the academic year 2023-24, the Department of School Education and Literacy Public Education (DSEL) had earmarked 5,105 seats for the first round for admissions. But only 2,306 students took admission.
No admission in 9 districts
There is zero admission in RTE quota in nine educational districts — Bangalore North, Chikkamagaluru, Hassan, Kodagu, Madhugiri, Raichur, Sirsi, Uttara Kannada and Vijayanagar.
Out of 1,651 RTE seats available in these districts, 419 seats were earmarked for the first round. But no student has taken admission under the RTE quota.
M. Prasanna Kumar, Director (Primary Education), Department of Public Instruction told The Hindu, “Most applicants opted for elite schools. However, the availability of seats in those schools is very less. Students and parents are not interested to enrol in government, aided or budget private schools. Therefore, only a few students took admission in the first round. We are going to allot the second round of seats on June 6.”
In a bid to provide quality education for children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups, the Union Government ushered in RTE Act. One of its provisions was reserving 25% seats under RTE quota in private schools.
In Karnataka, the Act was implemented in 2010, and rules were formulated in 2012.
However, citing shortage of students in government and aided schools, and to save on huge amount of money being paid to private schools as fee reimbursement for RTE quota students, the Karnataka government amended this Act in 2018. Rule 4 of the RTE Act was amended to bring government and aided schools under the definition of ‘neighbourhood schools’, a concept which was earlier reserved only for private schools.
As per this amendment, a child can be admitted to a private school under RTE quota only if there are no government or aided school in the locality. Following this amendment, the number of RTE seats in Karnataka were reduced. Interest in admission through RTE quota has also declined.
Demand of students and parents
RTE Students and Parents’ Association has been demanding that the State Government reinstate the old provisions of the Act. B.N. Yogananda, general secretary of the association, said that a case related to this issue is pending in the Supreme Court.