New Delhi |High Court right, RTE can’t go against child: Activists

New Delhi: The high court judgment on Siddharth International School does much more than just direct a school to admit a disabled child. Activists pointed out that the judgment will have a “far-reaching impact”, can help hundreds of kids and serve as a check on governments interpreting the law in a way that goes against children.

The court made several important observations regarding “age-appropriate” class, distance and neighbourhood, and right to education for the disabled. It also said the 25% of EWS/DG ( economically weaker section and disadvantaged groups) quota in private schools benefits the 75% of fee-paying kids by making them “more sensitive and humane”.

The original order to admit the child was that of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal’s. The school challenged it citing several issues, one of which was discrepancies in Priyanshu’s age documents.

However, after deciding that the school does have a vacant EWS/DG seat, HC observed, “Discrepancy in the date of birth…in the present case is due to poverty, ignorance and backwardness of relatives.” The court further cited the RTE Act that no child will be denied admission “for lack of age proof”.

“Sections 8(c) and 12 is for the benefit of the child and meant to ensure that he/she gets access to elementary education, despite any technical difficulties,” said the judgment. The school had also argued there is an “upper-age limit” for admission.

Activists appreciated the HC judgment. “The court has interpreted the provisions of the RTE Act and it’ll have a far-reaching impact. Its stand on age-appropriate classes is not just for Priyanshu. It has also maintained that you can’t interpret any provision of the RTE in a way that goes against a child. This is binding even on governments,” said lawyer-activist Khagesh Jha.

The court has even made it possible for children living in Delhi’s border areas to seek admission in its schools. The private school had argued that the boy stayed in Ghaziabad, faraway from the school, and had no means of commute. The DoE’s field visit “confirmed…there is a nearby and direct road from the house to the…school” and the neighbourhood norms were met.

“The government itself denies admission to children living across the border. As per this order, only actual distance will count, not state borders,” said Jha.
Priyanshu’s leg got amputated below the knee in an accident; his father died a few months later. His mother works in a factory that manufactures plastic spoons. She earns around Rs 5,000-6,000 a month.
Although the court agreed that MACT “had no jurisdiction” to direct the school to admit, it chose to praise the presiding officer “for the empathy and sensitivity displayed.”

Delhi | Schools change hands: Delhi govt to take over private school for violating RTE provisions

The Delhi government, for the first time, has threatened to take over a private school due to complaints of violating educational provisions, such as conducting fake admissions under the economically weaker section (EWS) quota and repeated fee hikes under the same.

The Delhi government, for the first time, has threatened to take over a private school due to complaints of violating educational provisions, such as conducting fake admissions under the economically weaker section (EWS) quota and repeated fee hikes under the same.

Which schools?

Maxfort School’s branches at Rohini and Pitampura were given “take over” notices by the AAP government after they violated certain provisions of the Delhi School Education (DSE) Act, 1973, and the Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009, said Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia,according to an HT report.

“We have initiated the process of taking over the two branches of Maxfort School as an action against the recalcitrant private school. Action was initiated following complaints from parents and teachers,” said Sisodia.

Views of Parents:

The prospective taking over of the school management by the Delhi government in around two week’s time is being cheered by parents, who had filed complaints with Sisodia last year regarding the school’s fake EWS admissions, tax evasion and harassment by tampering with the official records.

“This is a good start and raises the hopes of thousand of parents. We are confident that if the government takes over, the school will run better,” said Satish Arora, whose son studies in Class 4 at Maxfort’s Rohini branch.

Findings of the inquiry:

Sisoda had set up an inquiry into these allegations under the directorate of education (DoE) and district magistrate (north-west) and found that the schools, which house around 3000 students, are flouting quite a few rules and thus, violating the RTE:

  • The schools were taking in far fewer admissions under the EWS/disadvantaged group than the directed 25 percent of total strength
  • Personal files and service books of teachers were not maintained
  • The schools did not hand over the details of attendance registers and the salary statements of the staff
  • The schools unlawfully collected a capitation fee-an additional fee which is not calculated under the tuition fees
  • Section 24 of the DSE act rules at least one mandatory annual inspection for every school, which was violated by Maxfort’s management

Counter move by the school management:

The Maxfort School management, comprising the Chadha Educational Society and S Jagat Singh Chadha Charitable Trust called the move illegal and promised to challenge it in court.

“This is highly unfortunate and illegal. When the DoE already conducted an inquiry and stated the fee hike was justifiable and stated in court, how can the government now take action?” said a member of the school management committee.

The AAP government, since coming to power in February 2015, has been focusing on the education sector and is trying to bring about reforms in the workings of the city schools. It has come under the eye of critics for allegedly infringing the autonomy of private institutions.

Source : India today

Delhi: 2 Maxfort schools get takeover notice on EWS quota

The Delhi government may take over two branches of a private city school in an unprecedented move after complaints of repeated fee hikes and fake admissions under the economically weaker section (EWS) quota.

City education minister Manish Sisodia said the government sent “take over” notices to the Rohini and Pitampura branches of Maxfort School for violating provisions of the Delhi School Education (DSE) Act, 1973, and the Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009.

In two weeks, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government will take over the management of the schools — where around 3,000 students study — if their response is found unsatisfactory.

“We have initiated the process of taking over the two branches of Maxfort School as an action against recalcitrant private school. Action was initiated following complaints from parents and teachers,” said Sisodia. This is the first time the city government has threatened to take over a private school.

The move was cheered by parents, who filed a complaint with Sisodia last year alleging harassment, fake EWS admissions and tax evasion through manipulation of official records.

“This is a good start and raises the hopes of thousand of parents. We are confident that if government takes over, the school will run better,” said Satish Arora, whose son studies in Class 4 of Maxfort’s Rohini branch.

The management of Maxfort School — that has two other branches in Delhi — termed the move illegal. An inquiry set up by Sisodia under the directorate of education (DoE) and district magistrate (north-west) found the schools were violating the RTE as admissions under the EWS/disadvantaged group was far below the stipulated 25% of total strength.

The schools also failed to maintain service books and personal files of teachers and didn’t furnish details relating to staff salary statements and attendance registers, the report said.

The probe found the school collected capitation fee — which is unlawful — and its management violated section 24 of the DSE act that makes it mandatory for every school to be inspected at least once annually. HT had reported on July 13 last year about the inquiry.

But the private school — that is managed by the Chadha Educational Society and S Jagat Singh Chadha Charitable Trust — said if the government planned to take over the institution, they will challenge the move in court.

“This is highly unfortunate and illegal. When the DoE already conducted an inquiry and stated the fee hike was justifiable and stated in court, how can the government now take action?” said a school management committee member.

Since coming to power in February 2015, the AAP government has focused on education and promised a set of highprofile reforms in city schools. It devoted the largest chunk of the city budget to education and identified 54 government schools to be developed as models with high-tech equipment and special training for teachers.

But several such education initiatives have triggered controversy with critics saying the AAP government was infringing the autonomy of private institutions.

In January, the Delhi high court scrapped a city government notice that outlawed management quota for nursery admission in private unaided schools.

Source : Hindustan Times

Delhi | Extend RTE benefits to 3-6 year olds: NCPCR

New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Wednesday said benefits of the Right to Education (RTE) Act should also be extended to children in the age group of three to six years.

The commission had organised seminars seeking suggestions from state governments to re-engage ‘Out of the School Children’ back to mainstream education.

“Various stakeholders who participated in the consultation process with NCPCR were of the view that 3-6 year-old children should be brought under the RTE Act,” said a statement released by the commission on Thursday.

Backing the demand, NCPCR chairperson Stuti Kacker said the commission will define ‘Out of the School Children’, while preparing a report highlighting the reasons and situations which compelled them to move out of school.

“A capsule course would be developed by the Commission for children whose positions remain unattended under the existing laws. The nation is losing precious human resources as children who could not attend school often indulge in crimes and tend to live on streets. This retorts them to begging most of the time,” Kacker said.

She said technology must be used to bring street children back to school and they must be imparted skill-based education.

Commission member Rupa Kapoor said NCPCR was in the process of drafting a Standard Operating Procedure for street children and views of state governments would be incorporated.

Another member Yashwant Jain cited the example of Chhattisgarh where ‘Out of the School Children’ in Maoist-affected areas have been placed in schools though residential hostels programme.

Source : The Times of India

Delhi: Denial of admission complaints tops list of pleas under RTE Act

The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) Tuesday presented its annual report on complaints filed under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, ranging from corporal punishment, sexual harassment of children, denial of admission and other similar complaints.

In the year 2014-15, the DCPCR processed 195 cases under the RTE of which 175 cases have been disposed off. The remaining 20 are being looked into, says the report.

 A majority of cases under the act pertain to denial of admission to children in neighbourhood schools. Thirty-one such cases were reported in the year 2014-15. However, denial of admission under EWS quota education is the highest — 32 cases were reported last year.

This is followed by mental harassment of students. “There are 19 cases of children subjected to mental harassment,” states the report.

The commission also recorded that some Delhi schools still resort to corporal punishment. “Fifteen such cases were reported in the year in which the commission had to intervene,” stated the report.

Cases of injury/death of child in schools have also been reported, and a total 11 such cases were attended to.

The commission also claims to have received four cases of sexual harassment/assault/molestation of children in school.

The remaining complaints are related to lack of basic amenities, denial of entitlements such as uniforms, books and stationary, no special educators in schools, security and safety of children, corrections in school records, holding interaction or entrance test of parents, lack of teachers in schools.

The report also cited some of the complaints received by the commission. “A complaint was received from a father regarding harassment and expulsion of his son from a reputed school in central Delhi. The student was in Class VII… After a meeting with school authorities and a promise of monthly counselling of child, he was re-admitted to the school.”

Source : The Indian Express

Delhi | ‘Implement strict norms on private schools’

Organisations representing parents have exhorted the state education ministry to implement strict norms on private schools on the lines of what the Delhi government had done to implement the Right to Education Act. The organisations have said that strict implementation of the RTE Act and other laws would curb the commercialisation of education being done by private schools.

Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia recently came out with a notice to private schools that says, “‘Attention: Private Schools of Delhi’. Delhi government is serious about the Right to Education Act, 2009 and related orders issued by the honourable courts. All private schools are advised that irrespective of their earlier practices, they should end their unlawful activities.”

Welcoming the warning to private schools by Mr Sisodia, Jayant Jain, president of Forum for Fairness in Education and Sudhir Paranjpe of Anudanit Shiksha Bachao Samiti said that education minister Vinod Tawde should take a lesson from Mr Sisodia and show the will to implement existing laws.

“Mr Tawde is giving a bad name to the government by allowing private school managements to get away with profiteering. Apart from the RTE Act, there are many other laws that have been framed to curb profiteering and exploitation of the students and their parents, but Mr Tawde has so far not used any of them to get private school managements to toe the line; rather he tells parents to go to court. What is the point of having a minister who is not willing to use the laws at his disposal to give justice to aggrieved parents and students? We need to have a minister like Mr Sisodia who is willing to take on the private school managements head on,” said Mr Jain.

Mr Paranjpe concurred with Mr Jain’s views and said that the lack of will on the part of the government to crack the whip on private school managements was indicative of a nexus between the government and the managements. “The RTE Act explicitly mentions reserving 25 per cent seats for financially weaker sections of society in private schools as these schools have received subsidies and freebies from the government. However, they are refusing and the government is doing nothing about it. Not only Mr Tawde but even chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is responsible for the current high-handedness of private school managements,” said Mr Paranjpe, adding that Mr Sisodia was able to issue a warning to the private school managements because he had no nexus with them.

Source : The Asian Age

Delhi | EWS admission confusion leads to harassment of parents

As admissions for the economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups to private schools under the Right to Education Act get underway in Delhi, there is confusion among the families in these categories as well as in the schools.

Parents are being harassed by schools which demand fees, ignore ration cards as income proof, demand income proof from the disadvantaged groups, refuse admission due to minor errors in address, or charge for books and uniforms, claimed Delhi-based NGO Indus Action. Apart from refusal on seemingly technical grounds, some schools go so far as to bar entry of the families belonging to EWS and DG category, or set up limited and arbitrary timings for their entry into the school, Indus Action added.

When asked why schools are reluctant to admit children according to the RTE provisions, Indus Action’s Anurag Kundu said, “The reimbursement that private schools will get will open their account books to government scrutiny. Second, is a cultural issue — the prejudice and lack of internalisation of diversity.”

Reimbursements to the schools have been delayed, affecting the financial health of a school. “Apart from the cultural issue, the other two can be taken care of by the government, only if it chooses to care,” said Mr Kundu.

Under Section 12(1)(c) of the RTE, a child in the age group of 3-6 years belonging to the economically weaker section or disadvantaged group (SC/ST/OBC, people with disability, orphan or transgender) can get admission in all unaided, non-minority, private schools. Under this section, the child is entitled to free admission, books and uniforms, and does not have to pay tuition fees. The RTE mandates the reservation of 25 per cent seats in entry-level classes (nursery, KG or Class 1) in all unaided, non-minority, private schools for children from socially and economically disadvantaged sections.

Though the Directorate of Education is committed, there is very little that the city government can do against the schools under the Delhi School Education Act, said Mr Kundu. “The only options available are shutting (the schools) down and taking-over their administration. This is an extreme step which no government would like to take. So usually, schools have a free run,” said Mr Kundu.

One parent in Onkar Nagar has made several trips to the school his child has been allocated. “The school is refusing to admit my child because my name is not on the ration card, it only has my wife’s name. They have also asked me to pay Rs 200,” the confused father said. “I don’t know what is happening, I will keep checking,” he added.

When contacted by this newspaper, the school vehemently denied asking for any fees. “Schools like us are helping the government execute its policies. But even after giving the education department data every year for the past three years, no amount has been reimbursed till date,” said the school manager, on condition of anonymity for fear of prosecution by the government. “We take in children under the RTE in the spirit of providing education, but how long can we carry on in this manner?”

In another case of violation of the RTE, a school in East Vinod Nagar initially told parents there would be no admissions in their school through the provisions of the RTE, a relative of a child seeking admission told this newspaper. “When we demanded that they write on our form that they will not conduct RTE admissions, they simply refused,” he said. When the school was contacted by this reporter, it said they had received “lots of forms,” and would hold a draw on March 25.

“It’s ridiculous to conduct a draw on the March 25 when the academic session is supposed to start from April 1. After the lottery, at least one week should be given for the formalities and there should be provision for another round of draw lest some parents back out,” said Indus Action volunteer Robin Keshaw.

Source : The Asian Age 

Delhi | On Day 4, parents applying under EWS category left perplexed

It has been four days since nursery admissions began in the Capital, but confusion still prevails among those applying under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category — which have gone online for the first time.

Admissions under the EWS category are being done online for schools recognised under the Delhi School Education Act and Rules (DSEAR), 1973.

The process remains offline for schools recognised under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009.

As many as 418 schools are accepting offline admissions, but since there is no list notifying the same, parents are left confused.

In fact, many parents are facing problems with the software developed by the Directorate of Education (DoE).

Further, the site crashed a few time on the first day of the admissions. Sources at the DoE said that the government is working on the issues in the software and would make an announcement in this regard soon.

Akriti Gupta, who is applying for her daughter under the EWS category, said: “There is so much confusion in this category. Some schools are taking forms online, some are taking forms offline. So far I have been able to apply to just two schools for my daughter through the online process, but I don’t thing that is enough because the number is seats is limited. I have no idea which schools are accepting offline forms. I will have to go to some schools,” said Ms. Gupta.

Experts, meanwhile, say that parents should not fill forms in haste as they have time till January 15.

“There is no need to panic. If the government is working on something, then the parents should wait for at least two to three days,” said Sumit Vohra, who runs a portal on nursery admission.

Mr. Vohra has also set up a help desk at P.P. International School in Pitampura for parents of wards under the EWS category.

Though the government had said that they will make things easier for people in the slums by deputing NGOs to help them, the move does not seem to be of much help. Parents also said that cyber cafes are charging a lot for filling up forms for them.

 Source : The Hndu

Delhi | 25 per cent EWS quota in all nurseries, playschools

Delhi: Deputy Chief Minister and Education minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday ordered all nurseries, playschools, creches and pre-primary schools, allotted land by a government agency or the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), to reserve 25 per cent of its seats for students from the economically weaker sections (EWS).

Implementing the guidelines issued by the Delhi High Court in November 2014, the Delhi government has also decided that EWS students will not be charged registration fee or be asked to pay for the prospectus. According to the High Court guidelines, every school on government land will have to display the number of seats it has on its website as well as on an easily accessible public notice board.

As laid down in the guidelines, playschools on government land will not conduct any tests or interviews of parents or the child while admitting children from the EWS category. If applications exceed the number of seats available, the school will grant these admissions by ‘draw of lots’.

A Delhi government official said the eligibility of a student to apply to a school close to his/her residence will be determined according to the norms laid down in the Right to Education (RTE) Act. According to Section 3 of the RTE Act, a child shall have “the right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till the completion of his or her elementary education”.

The High Court had clarified that its order would apply exclusively to playschools, nurseries and creches running on government land. It will also apply to private unaided recognised schools — other than minority schools — whether on government or private land, and having entry level classes such as pre-school, pre-primary or Class I. These schools should continue to reserve 25 per cent of its seats for EWS students under provisions of the RTE Act, the court order had said.

Government officials said schools failing to implement the order will face serious action by the government, including cancellation of the land lease by the government agency or the DDA.

Source: The Indian Express

Delhi | Provide free books, uniforms or get de-recognised: Govt to private schools

Delhi: The Education Department has issued strict directions to de-recognise schools which do not give free books and uniforms to children under the EWS category.

Private schools refusing to provide free books and uniforms to children studying under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category will soon face the prospect of de-recognition.
The Education Department has issued strict directions to de-recognise schools which do not give free books and uniforms to children under the EWS category.
Stating that schools “cannot escape from the obligation laid down under the provisions of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009”, the order directs schools to either comply or face the prospect of de-recognition.
Related

“In case of non-compliance with the directions, the process of de-recognition of the school – on account of violation of relevant provisions under the RTE Act, 2009 (Rule 15) – shall be initiated. The issue will also be brought to the notice of the competent authority in the DDA for taking necessary action against the defaulting schools,” the circular sent by the department to all schools states.

There are 68,951 EWS students in Delhi. According to an affidavit submitted by the Directorate of Education in the Delhi High Court, 51,000 of them are currently studying in schools that do not provide books and uniforms for free.

The Supreme Court in 2011 had ruled that any barriers, including financial ones, which prevented children from getting quality education, should be removed. Section 8(1) of the Delhi RTE Act also states that entitlements — including books, uniforms and writing material — have to be provided by schools.

Noting that it was “wholly unacceptable” on the government’s part that nearly 51,000 children have to go without books and uniform, the High Court had said last year that “it was the government’s as well as the schools’ duty to ensure that free textbooks are provided”.

But with the entitlement amount per child — that is given by the government — being too low to meet all costs, schools said they are under no obligation to adhere to the rule.

“The government pays a little more than Rs 600 for each child’s books and uniform. The amount is hardly enough to compensate us. We can’t be expected to pay lakhs of rupees from our own pockets,” R C Jain, president, Delhi State Public Schools’ Management Association, had said.

Source: The Indian Express