RTE Act admissions in schools hazy

There is no clarity on status of 25% of seats to be allotted under RTE Act.File Photo

There is no clarity on status of 25% of seats to be allotted under RTE Act.File Photo  

Education rights activists say that with big private schools in Madurai having unofficially completed the admission process and started online classes, there is no clarity on the status of 25% of seats to be allotted under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act.

Documents obtained through Right to Information Act by Veronica Mary, a child rights activist, reveal that from 2014-15 to 2019-20, only 70.31% of the allotted seats have been filled in private schools across the State.

Implementation of the RTE Act this year, may be further weakened, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is feared.

According to the RTE Act, 25% of entry-level seats must be set aside for students from economically weaker sections of the society. Enquiries made to a number of big schools in the city revealed that many schools had completed the admission process, especially for kindergarten, and online classes were going on since June.

“Children from underprivileged sections, whose parents are usually daily wage workers, depend on RTE seats to enter private schools. But, due to lack of clarity this year, these students will lose this opportunity,” says C. Perarivalan, State general secretary of Tamil Puligal Katchi, who has been working for admitting underprivileged students from Karumbalai area under the RTE Act.

Mo. Pandiarajan, a member of Global Nursery and Primary Schools Association, says most private schools try not to admit students under the RTE Act due to non-disbursal of funds by the State government.

‘Government must act’

While this is the case under normal circumstances, the pandemic situation may worsen the implementation of the Act, says Ms. Mary.

Pandemic, no excuse

“The government must either take action against schools admitting students or announce online admission of seats under the RTE Act. Since the RTE admission process was held online for the past two years, COVID-19 pandemic could not be used as an excuse,” Ms. Mary adds.

A Devaneyan, founder-director of Thozhamai, a non-governmental organisation, says the government must immediately issue guidelines regarding admissions under RTE Act.

“The government may say the schools have officially not commenced the admission process. But it is the underprivileged students who stand to lose in the end,” he says.

District Chief Educational Officer R. Swaminathan says there is no official order from the government permitting admissions for this academic year. “But, when admissions through RTE begins, all schools would have to compulsorily allocate seats for it,” he adds.

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