Maharashtra – RTE admission crisis: Education department blinks first, extends registration deadline to buy time

NAGPUR: To tide over the current RTE admission boycott crisis, Maharashtra’s education department has extended the deadline for schools to register online till January 25. The original deadline of Saturday became untenable after approximately 3,000 private unaided schools decided to stay away from the RTE admission process because of non-payment of dues. While deadlines have been extended in previous years as well, given this year’s stand-off between school associations and education department, the latest deadline extension is seen as the government coming under pressure.
School associations are refraining from officially commenting on the education department’s deadline extension and claiming a moral victory, as they do not want to “antagonize” the already strained relationship. A local school trustee, said, “The ball is now in the government’s court. We have made our stand clear and we can’t be reacting for every action they take. The deadline extension is clearly a case of them blinking first but still it is not a statement. Maybe they are willing to talk to us, maybe they are hoping to drive a wedge between us by luring some schools to the other side. It’s better for us to keep quiet for now and wait for something concrete to happen.”

Various school associations have now come together under a common federation to put up a united face. Rajendra Singh, secretary of Independent English Schools Association (IESA), said, “On January 27, we will be addressing a press conference in Mumbai in which other association members will also be there.”
While the schools have adopted a wait and watch policy, the education department is trying the micro-management strategy. Dipendra Lokhande, district’s education officer, said, “There are 253 schools in Nagpur district that have not registered for RTE yet, and the admission process cannot move ahead till every single school submits the form online. We will now be asking our officials to follow up with individual schools under their area and get the process moving.”
But even Lokhande admits that as of now his officials can only ‘request’ and not take any action. “Action against schools is a decision that has to be taken at the state-level. I will follow whatever orders come from superiors. For now, we will just speak with principals and see that they do not face any problems while registering,” said Lokhande.
Now all eyes will be on January 27 when all school associations are planning to address a joint press conference. Though deadline for registration in January 25 midnight, the government won’t take any immediate action against schools with the next day being a public holiday. Another school trustee, who manages a multi-branch institute, said, “After one week, only two things will happen. Either school associations back down after accepting some written assurance from state government, or all hell breaks loose with the education department initiating strong action like derecognition of schools.”

Source: The Times of India

Maharashtra: 23 CBSE schools decide to boycott RTE admissions due to non-payment of dues by Maha govt

23 CBSE schools from Nagpur have decided to boycott the RTE (Right To Education) admission process for 2018-19 academic session because of non-payment of dues by the Maharashtra government. These 23 schools came under the banner of a newly formed organization called Nagpur CBSE Private School Management Association and have written to the Deputy Director of Education making it clear that they won’t be registering their schools online for RTE. So far, the education department has not reacted as the deadline for RTE registration ends on Saturday midnight.

The letter signed by association chairperson, Neeru Kapai, has made it clear that unless and until all RTE dues are cleared, their member schools won’t be admitting any students. Kapai is co-founder of Modern School which has two branches with almost 5,000 students.

Another organization which has both CBSE and state board schools as its members, will be taking a final call on RTE admission boycott on Saturday. Independent English Schools Association (IESA) executive body will be meeting in Nagpur where its member-schools from eastern Maharashtra will decide on boycotting RTE registrations. Rajendra Dayma, vice-president of IESA, said, “Already in Jalna district we have boycotted the process and hope that schools in Nagpur too take a similar call. IESA has also approached the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court over non-payment of RTE dues by state government.”

As per the RTE Act, private unaided (non-minority) schools reserve 25% of their seats for free admissions to students selected by respective state governments under RTE norms. In lieu of these free admissions, schools receive a fixed amount per year, per child. For academic session 2017-18 this fee was approximately Rs.17,000 per child. However, payments by the government have been sporadic with many getting part payments hardly 30% of their total dues.

Since RTE lottery and student selection process is online, schools have to register on the education department portal giving details of the seat availability. This registration had to be completed by midnight of January 20 in Nagpur. With the 23 schools already deciding to pull out, and chances of dozen or more members of IESA doing the same, it remains to be seen how the education department will handle the crisis.

Source: The Times of India

Maharashtra: RTE admissions to begin from January 24

The admission process for students under the Right to Education (RTE) Act for 25 per cent reserved seats in primary schools of Pune, will begin from January 24. The registration of schools participating in the scheme, had already begun on Wednesday, January 3.

Under the current procedure for admissions, parents will have to fill the online applications for the school preferences citing names of only 10 schools, the officials of the education department informed.

The selection of schools from the list will then be finalised based on a lottery method. It is mandatory for the students to take admission in the school selected in the first phase itself. Those failing to abide by this and take admission in the very first option made available to them, will be disqualified from the admission process, a statement said. As per Sharad Gosavi, deputy director (Primary Education), and education officer, a detailed schedule has been prepared, which has been made available on the website. As per this schedule, all the schools are required to register themselves from January 3 to 20. Following registrations, these schools will be verified on January 22 and 23.

The parents, then, will be allowed to apply online for their wards’ admission by filling the online application from January 24 to February 10. The first phase of lottery will take place on February 12 and 13 and the admissions based on those results will have to be completed between February 14 and 22. This pattern will be followed in six rounds till the final lottery on April 16 and 17. Based on the final results, admissions will have to be completed between April 18 to 24. Also, students will be given only one chance of admission in schools that will be in a distance between one and three kilometers.

Further, a workshop to help parents and students understand the preparatory process for the admission was also organised on January 2. To extend more efficient assistance to the parents, an RTE portal has been set up – https://rte25admission.maharashtra.gov.in. The portal is to provide all the required information needed for admissions, like documents age condition, school guidance centre, helpline. All changes made to the processes will be uploaded on the portal.

Source: Hindustan Times

Maharashtra: BMC to launch app for RTE admission ease

For the upcoming academic year, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is creating a mobile phone application to ease the admission process for students applying to seats reserved under the Right to Education Act, 2009. Admissions through the centralized online process are expected to begin in the last week of January, earlier than usual.
All unaided non-minority schools in the city are expected to reserve 25% of their seats at the entry level for students from economically weaker sections. Admissions to these seats are conducted through a series of online lotteries conducted by the BMC.

Officials from the civic education department said, “Once the app is ready, we will finalize the admission schedule such that it is completed before vacation begins. Earlier, the admission process went on up to May and parents complained that they missed it.” Last year, the admission process started in February.
According to the tentative schedule, schools will begin registrations on January 22 and the portal will be thrown open to applicants on January 24. The BMC plans to conduct six rounds of lottery and complete the process by April 24.
Activists, however, feel the initiatives won’t benefit unless loopholes in the process are fixed. “Schools are expected to register every year. This way, some of them may try to wriggle out of the process. Also, the age limit for students with disabilities must be done away with,” said Sudhir Paranjpe, member of the NGO Anudanit Shiksha Bachao Andolan. “The BMC should also ensure that schools allotted to the students actually complete the admissions because often students are turned away on frivolous grounds.”
The Unaided Schools Forum, which is still awaiting reimbursements since a few years, will meet to decide whether or not to boycott the admission process this year.

Source: Times of India

Maharashtra: RTE registration to begin on Jan 24

Online registration under Right to Education (RTE) will be conducted between January 24 and February 10 for the 2018-19 academic session. Certain changes have been made in the registration procedure to ensure underprivileged children are able to take advantage of free and compulsory education.

The details were given during a press conference organized by the education department (primary) of Zilla Parishad on Tuesday.
Education officer (primary) Dipendra Lokhande said, “The number of schools guardians can choose during registration has been limited to 10. Last year’s issue where multiple schools were shortlisted for one student has now been rectified and one student will be allotted one school. We have also provided relief in documentation for children of widows, divorced parents and orphans.”

The state Directorate of Primary Education will soon be launching a mobile application for online registrations. The application will allow guardians to select schools in their vicinity through Google Maps on their phones. The application will initially be launched for Android platforms.
Registration of schools under RTE which began on Wednesday and continue till January 20 followed by the verification process on January 22 and 23. There will be six rounds of lottery on February 12, 26, March 8, 20, April 3 and 16 following online registration for guardians.
The final list showing the number of vacant seats in RTE schools will be displayed on April 25 and 26. There is no requirement for uploading documents like Aaadhar, PAN or passport during filing of online application form. However, guardians are required to produce these documents while admission of their wards in the shortlisted schools.
Those seeking benefit under RTE can log on to https://student.maharashtra.gov.in, create an account and fill the online registration form. People seeking more information can contact NGO RTE Action Committee on helpline number 8796121213.

Source: Times of India

Maharashtra: Private schools to get 2,000 more from state for each RTE pupil

Students enrolled in private schools under provisions of the Right to Education Act, 2009, will get around Rs 2,000 more as annual reimbursement.

The state government has hiked the per annum reimbursement. As per a government resolution issued by the education department, private schools will now receive up to Rs 17,670 per year for every student from economically weaker section – a hike of almost Rs 2,000. The amount was Rs 13,474 in the 2014-15 academic year.

All unaided non-minority schools in the city are expected to reserve 25% of their seats at entry level for students from economically weaker sections. The state reimburses the school for the student who studies there for free.
The schools will be paid Rs 17,670 or the actual spending on the student, whichever is lower.
Each year, approximately 3.000 students get admission in private schools through a lottery conducted by the civic body.
While schools have welcomed the hike in payout but have also demanded to know how the government arrived at the new amount.

Source: Times of India

Maharashtra: First RTE kids staring at full fee burden in two years

NAGPUR: In another two and half years, the first batch of students admitted in private schools under the Right to Education (RTE) Act will lose the privilege of free education. They will have to either pay the full fees or leave their school.

Students who took admission in Std I in 2012-13 will enter Std VII in 2018, which is the threshold for free education under RTE Act. This means 2019, a year when both general and state elections are scheduled, will be the last year of them getting free education. From 2020 onwards, they will have to start paying as they enter Std IX.

For private unaided schools that have been pressing for full payment of RTE bills, this seems a perfect opportunity. They realize the time to build up pressure is now. Sanjay Tayde-Patil, founder of Maharashtra English Schools Trustees Association, said, “On Thursday we will be taking out a morcha in Nagpur to ensure people who matter listen to our demands. For too long, our RTE bills have been kept pending, with just a small fraction being given in phases. The government must understand we cannot function like this. I am sure the government cannot afford the political fallout of so many students being asked to pay up.”

Many expect the government will come up with some amendment to RTE Act that will ensure these students are not left stranded. Tayde-Patil said, “Maybe they will extend free education up to Std X or XII because there’s no way these students will be asked to end their schooling or shift to government schools.”

Consequences of expelling non-paying students is not something even schools want to face. Tayde-Patil said, “We will be painted as villains and hunted by everyone. Hence, we want to include parents in our agitation and make them understand this development is going to affect them two years from now. And after that every year a new batch of students will face the problem.”

MESTA says their immediate strategy is to stop admissions if full RTE reimbursements are not received. “Somebody has to bear the expenses of students admitted under RTE quota and as of now the government is not doing it completely. If we cannot expel students, best way is to stop admissions completely,” said Tayde-Patil.

Source: Times Of India

Maharshtra : Enrolments in Mumbai’s civic schools drop by 50% in 8 years

The Right to Education Act (RTE), which allows free education to students from lower income groups, aspirations of parents wanting private schooling for their children, and poor quality of education imparted in civic schools have collectively resulted in more than 50% dip in enrolment in municipal schools across Mumbai.

Statistics shared by Praja Foundation have revealed that enrolments to Class 1 in BMC schools have fallen drastically from 63,392 in 2008-09 to 32,218 in 2016-17.

“One of the reasons for this dip is lack of quality education in BMC schools, owing to which parents are willing to pay fees of a private school over free education at municipal schools,” said Nitai Mehta, founder and managing trustee, Praja Foundation. She added that status of BMC’s Mumbai Public Schools (English medium) is much better than the older BMC schools in terms of enrolment and dropout rate.

On Tuesday, the NGO released its annual report on municipal education in Mumbai. Other than low enrolment rate, this report also highlighted that the rate of dropout has fallen by more than 50% in the past one year.

“Last year, 15 out of 100 students were dropping out of BMC schools. But this year the number is eight dropouts per 100 students. The BMC has been doing a lot to curb dropouts but no one seems to be doing anything about the dipping enrolment,” said Milind Mhaske, project director, Praja Foundation.

Mahesh Palkar, BMC education officer, told HT that RTE as well as parents’ attitude towards municipal schools has resulted in a drop in children taking admissions at civic schools.

“We conducted seven rounds of school survey to find students who didn’t attend school for months and have managed to get them back. But with RTE in place, we can’t force parents to send their children to our schools,” he said.

The NGO interviewed 2,758 parents, of which most respondents complained about the poor quality education and lack of basic amenities at municipal schools as the primary reasons for them to shift the children to private schools.

“Of late, the BMC has been pushing for better accountability in their schools. But their approach is not the best. The BMC plans to fine teachers if students don’t fair well. However, they should focus on training teachers more. Instead of just blaming the teachers, other senior officials should also be made accountable,” added Mehta.

Nitin Wadhwani, founder and director, Citizen’s Association for Child Rights, said the problem seems to be with the preconceived image of BMC schools in parents’ minds.

“BMC schools are doing well in terms of infrastructure and implementation of latest technology. But they fail to provide basic training to their teachers, which ultimately shows in their results,” he said.

Wadhwani added that BMC needs to focus on spending funds in right places. “Only when parents see real change, will they trust the BMC schools again.”

Source: Hindustan Times

MUMBAI|RTE admissions to start early

Mumbai : Learning from its past mistakes, the civic body’s education department is planning to start admissions to 25 percent seats in private unaided schools under the Right to Education (RTE) Act early for the next academic year.

The process is expected to begin this month for the academic year beginning from June 2017. While classes had begun in June, this year the process went on from March till September. The previous year it had continued till December-January.

It is a time consuming process with the schools having to register first, followed by parents who register for their children’s admission after which the seats are allotted and finally the admission process entails three rounds. This academic year, out of the over 6,000 who were alloted seats, only around 2,500 finally took admission.

Officials said parents had not shown interest to approach schools as they had not got a school of their preference, while there were complaints that many schools were denying admissions. Parents admitted children to either a civic or private school since the RTE admission process was being indefinitely delayed, besides some schools turning down the admissions.

Schools had to update the admission status of children alloted seats on the education department’s website.

Source : The Free Press Journal

Mumbai | RTE does not apply to minority schools, says HC

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court (HC) has reiterated that Right To Education (RTE) Actdoes not apply to religious and linguistic minority schools.

Hearing a petition filed by Federation of Linguistic & Religious Minority Education Institutions, a division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Mahesh Sonak quashed orders of the state government rejecting proposals by 10 school managements to open unaided minority English-medium primary schools on the grounds that they did not comply with RTE norms.

The HC asked the state to reconsider the applications as per law. “We are of the opinion that the rejection to the proposals submitted… was not proper, particularly since such rejections failed to take into consideration the law as declared by the Supreme Court,” said the judges.

The HC referred to the 2014 apex court order that held that provisions of RTE do not apply to aided or unaided minority institutions. The apex court had said that if RTE law were made applicable to such institutions, it would violate their rights and destroy the minority character of the schools.

 The RTE, enacted in 2009, says that all private schools that receive government aid and grants have to reserve at least 25% of seats for the poor and other categories of children who will be provided free, compulsory education.
The government reimburses expenses to schools. In 2010, the state invited applications for opening new schools in the state. The state education department received over 7,475 applications. In 2013, it rejected the applications as they did not comply with the RTE Act.
The Federation and the 10 schools approached the HC, challenging the rejection orders. The Federation claimed that the 2014 law made it clear that RTE does not apply to aided or unaided minority educational institutions.