BENGALURU: The Right to Education (RTE) Act was aimed at providing access to education to every child. But like every other law, its implementation is full of flaws. The 25% quota in private English medium schools is misused so much so that middlemen are virtually running the show between uneducated poor parents and the schools. In our five part series commencing today, TOI looks at how deep the mess is in implementing one of India’s progressive laws to get every child into a school.
A web of confusion and messy management of the system defines the state of the 25% seat allocation under the Right to Education Act in the state. In a massive crackdown on the inefficiency of the department of public instruction’s application verification software, it was revealed that parents have applied multiple times for their child using different mobile numbers each time.
Some of these applicants have sent in their details over five times for the same student and in each application have marked a different school as their first preference. The additional applications should have been rejected in the first go taking only one of them as legitimate. Astonishingly, the department’s scanners had made all of these applications of one student eligible for participation in the online seat allocation lottery that was conducted on Saturday.
A total of 2,74,628 applications were received this year by the department of which 1,87,495 were deemed eligible for the seat allocation to the 11 thousand-odd private unaided schools. But of these eligible applications, the department decided that owing to over 200 such cases of duplication, the applicants that have been rejoicing over getting an allotment to two or more schools, will face a cancellation of the allotment after the list has been sent to the schools for further verification.
There are various modes to apply. One can apply online, through mobile phones, by going to a BEO. While submitting the applications, parents are required to fill in details of the child’s name, their names, AADHAR/EPIC details, income certificate along with mobile numbers. While most of these applications are filled through mobile phones itself, it becomes easy for parents to apply using different numbers and with each application, they have the luxury of marking a different school as their first preference.
Once this is done, during verification process, even if all other detail of the applicants are the same, the applications are not rejected because the mobile numbers are different and all other details are also up-to-date.
Condemning this snag in the verification process, Shashi Kumar, general secretary, Associate Management of Private Schools in Karnataka (KAMS) said, “This is the biggest loophole in the system and I had appealed to the department about the rectification of the verification system many times but it went unheard. Considering mobile numbers for the verification process must be stopped right away.
This practice, although can guarantee parents a seat for their child in any one of the preferred schools, it reduces chances of another equally eligible child from being a part of the online allotment process.
Nagasimha G Rao, state convener, RTE task force said, “This practice is an injustice to other students who aspire for a seat under the quota. Filing multiple applications, in reality began as an attempt to rectify a mistake they would make. These parents would have sent in a wrong detail or a small spelling mistake in their names and fearing that their application would get rejected, they would use a different mobile number to apply for the same child, with the right details.”
He further added, “But what began as an innocent practice has now been misused by these parents. But they can’t alone be blamed, the department’s verification process is equally inefficient. It should be able to accept only one of these applications instead of all of them.”
However, K Ananda, director of public instruction for primary education said, “We have not received many complaints regading this, all those that we have got from parents are regarding changes in schools that have been allotted. Further scrutiny on this matter will happen at school levels after they conduct physical verification.”