Madurai | RTE admissions: NGO finds little compliance by schools

Madurai: TVS Matriculation Higher Secondary School has admitted the maximum number of students in LKG under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, according to data revealed through Right To Information (RTI) Act.

People’s Watch, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) here, had sought details from the Department of School Education under the RTI Act of the number of students admitted to educational institutions in Madurai district in 2014-15.

According to the information released by officials, TVS Matriculation Higher Secondary School had admitted 75 students.

In all, 156 schools in the district had admitted children in LKG and sixth standard under the RTE last academic year.

Though the Department of School Education officials claimed that they instructed private educational institutions to admit students in RTE as per the norms prescribed by Government of India, lack of awareness among the public and parents had led to poor rate of admission.

Against a target of admitting 2,509 students under RTE by private matriculation schools in 2013-14, a total of 1,103 students alone had benefitted.

Though the target was not achieved in 2014-15, there was moderate improvement as schools had admitted 1,795 students against a target of 2,519 students.

Source: The Hindu

Tamilnadu | Student group to start study circles across TN

Coimbatore: Students Federation of India (SFI) state secretary Rajmohan held a press meet on Friday during which he announced that the federation had decided to start study circles in various educational institutions across the state.

“Private educational institutions are yet to implement the 25 % reservation for students from weaker sections of society. The federation had obtained details of beneficiaries through Right To Information (RTI) Act which revealed that only 2559 students were admitted in various private schools in the state under the Right To Education (RTE) Act. “In contrast to our findings, the school education minister has claimed that 25% reservation has been implemented completely across state schools,” said Rajmohan.

He alleged that the state had failed to take action against private schools for violating the reservation policy. “The BJP is attempting to make the RTE Act redundant. The centre is yet to allot the 30,000 crore subsidy to implement the act. This has affected more than 6 lakh students in Tamil Nadu. Meanwhile, the state has failed to take up the issue with the Union government,” said Rajmohan.

He demanded the state ban educational institutions if they violate government fixed fee structures.

“The SFI has conducted several protests against the ban on the Ambedkar-Periyar study circle at IIT-Madras,” he added.

Source: The Times of India

Nagpur | RTE quota only at school entry level in Nagpur: Education secretary

Nagpur: The long standing confusion, that mired Nagpur education officials over Right to Education (RTE) Act’s 25% quota admission, finally got cleared on Thursday following intervention by state’s top bureaucrat from education ministry. Nand Kumar, principal secretary of education ministry who was in Nagpur for a seminar, said, “Full 25% admissions have to be given only at entry point of school. If entry level is pre-primary, then for Std I only vacant and backlog seats have to be filled with RTE candidates.”

This cleared the air over local education department’s complete misinterpretation of a government resolution about giving RTE admissions in pre-primary and primary sections. Nagpur education department erroneously interpreted the directives by asking schools to reserve 25% seats for RTE students in both nursery/KG and std I. In the presence of Anil Pardhi, deputy director of education (Nagpur division), Kumar clarified that doing the latter would amount to 50% RTE reservation.

The other issue was complaints over RTE’s online lottery software, which allotted seats to applicants in a single school at both pre-primary and std I level. Schools complained that they had chosen entry point as nursery and yet they were allotted std I students.

Keen to get to the bottom of the issue, Kumar enquired about the start of problem and immediately called up the education department headquarters at Pune.

Kumar, said, “It is a human error by schools. While filling their online registration form, they keyed in their school statistics at entry point but left std I fields blank. This has resulted in seats being allotment at both nursery and std I level. Now, parents will obviously be angry if they are told that their child cannot be given admission because of some error, but education officials will have to somehow pacify them.”

This will mean immediate relief for schools who were being forced to admit 25% RTE students at both levels and end an almost two-month long standoff.

Kumar was in city to address a select group of teachers and education officials at a seminar on raising the quality of education. Since he himself has a Bachelors in Education, Kumar was able to explain the finer points to his audience. “Education officials will sow the seeds with policy but (teachers) have to act as the Sun, water and wind for it to sprout. Provide them your help and ensure that quality of education increases,” said Kumar.

Karajgaonkar named Nagpur board’chairman:

Hours after Principal secretary (Education) Nand Kumar’s speech, state school education minister Vinod Tawde also landed in city en route to Amravati for an official function.

Speaking at the airport with TOI, Tawde said that Nagpur divisional board will finally get a full time chairman. “I signed the papers just yesterday. (Mahesh) Karajgaonkar will be coming here to take charge,” said Tawde. The post has been lying vacant since August 2013 and no official was interested to take charge in Vidarbha. He also added that for National Law School the government is waiting for vice-chancellor to be appointed by the Supreme Court.

Source: The Times of India

Tamilnadu | Upload RTE info online, HC tells Tamil Nadu

Chennai: The Madras high court on Tuesday asked the state government make available online within three days details regarding admission of students under the Right to Education Act. Details such as how many seats are available in unaided private schools for children from disadvantaged families, how many admissions have been made under the RTE Act so far and what are the norms to fill the remaining seats will have to be uploaded on the state education department’s website.

The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice T S Sivagnanam also directed the CBSE and Union HRD ministry to submit details about reimbursement of expenditure incurred by the state government in admitting students under RTE Act within four weeks. The court was hearing a petition alleging lack of transparency in RTE admissions and seeking an online single-window system.

Special government pleader (education) G Krishnakumar told the court that in order to spread awareness about the scheme further, the state government has asked all district collectors to issue press releases and advertisements. From now on, district collectors will organize the random selection of students under 25% RTE quota in the presence of education and revenue authorities, he said.

Also, if a school refuses to given application forms to parents, they could collect the forms from the office of chief educational officer or district elementary educational officer or inspector of matriculation schools and submit the filled-in forms in these offices themselves, he said. More importantly, this year application forms could be submitted till June 15, and unfilled seats under the quota would be kept open till November to ensure that the benefit reached all the eligible candidates this year, he said.

As per the RTE Act, every school, including unaided institutions, have to set apart 25% of the available seats for children from poor families. While the beneficiaries need not pay any fee up to Class 10, the state government would pay the schools and get reimbursement from the Centre. As per the scheme, 49,864 students were admitted in schools in 2013-14, involving Rs 25.1 crore as reimbursible fee. In 2014-15, a total of 89,729 students were admitted and fee payable to the schools was Rs 71.9 crore.

On Tuesday, joint secretary in school education department P Alagesan filed a counter-affidavit saying that the Centre had amended rules and denied reimbursement of fee to students admitted in LKG, UKG and Class VI. Noting that a vast majority of students admitted in Tamil Nadu belonged to these categories, he explained how the state did not get any reimbursement for 2013-14 admissions, and is eligible for just Rs 14 lakh for admissions made in 2014-15.

The counter said a total of 16 government orders covering various aspects of the RTE Act had been issued by the Tamil Nadu government since 2010, and added that it would continue to fund education of children from poor families despite the Centre’s reluctance. It said the Centre’s attitude and new amendments would adversely affect children if the expenditure made by the Tamil Nadu government is not reimbursesd.

As for the petitioner A Narayanan’s plea that the government provide free uniform and textbooks for students admitted under the 25% RTE quota, the counter-affidavit said it would take possible steps to get funds from the Centre. It, however, added that the government has been providing free books and uniforms for children admitted in government schools and those run by local bodies. The counter expressed certain difficulties in introducing a single window admission system for RTE admissions, saying it might result in discrimination among RTE beneficiaries.

Source: The Times of India

Chennai | HC direction to TN Education Dept

Chennai: The Madras High Court today directed the State Education Department to display on its website within three days the number of seats in the 25 per cent quota available for disadvantaged and weaker sections with different educational institutions.

The Education Department should place the details before this Court by an affidavit such as “how many seats have been utilized and how many are vacant in the 25 per cent reservation quota, so that necessary directions may be issued to endeavour to fill up even the balance seats if any,” the first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam, said.

The benchm, after perusing the counter filed by the state Education department, in its order also directed the counsel for CBSE and HRD Ministry to file an affidavit within four weeks on the issue of funding raised by the Department and posted the matter for further hearing to July 6.

A PIL was filed by CHANGE INDIA (a centre for Advocacy and Research), Chennai, seeking a direction to the Department of School Education to create a transparent online single window method to monitor and streamline the process of admissions under RTE (Right to Education) Act,2009 and to make arrangements for free books, uniforms and other aids to students of disadvantaged groups/weaker sections.

When the matter came up, D Krishna Kumar, counsel for the Education Department, gave an undertaking that steps have been taken and will continue to be taken to ensure wide publicity to help students to apply in the 25 per cent quota.

It was also submitted that vacant seats which are not filled under 25 per cent reservation category are to be kept vacant till the end of this November in terms of Tamil Nadu Right of Children to Free and compulsory Education Rules 2011.

Source: Business Standard

Coimbatore | Rs 6 Crore Sought to Reimburse Schools for RTE Admissions

Coimbatore: The Directorate of Matriculation Schools submitted a claim of over Rs 6 crore on Wednesday to reimburse private schools in Coimbatore and Nilgiris districts for admitting students to free seats under the Right to Education Act.

This is only an approximate amount and the money would be paid only after an auditing team from Chennai scrutinises the schools’ records, according to Inspector of Matriculation Schools R Geetha.

As per the RTE Act, 25 percent of seats in private schools should be set apart for students from weaker sections. The government will reimburse the schools their fees. Private schools had recently announced that they would not admit students to the RTE quota this year as the government has not reimbursed them for the admissions made in the last two years.

Following this, the State government gave the School Education Department a loan of Rs 97.05 crore for the reimbursements. It authorised the State Project Director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to utilise the money. The authorities have started collecting details of admissions under the RTE Act.

Of the 338 private schools in Coimbatore and the Nilgiris, 46 are minority-run institutions which are exempted from the RTE Act. The School Education Department does not have details of the number of students admitted under RTE Act in the remaining 292 schools.

The Rs 6.03 crore includes Rs 1.65 crore for the 2013-14 academic year and Rs 4.04 crore for 2014-15 in Coimbatore district. For the Nilgiris, the reimbursement estimate is Rs 4.25 lakh for 2013-14 and Rs 30.14 lakh for 2014-15.

Source: The New Indian Express

TamilNadu | Rectify flaws before paying schools for RTE

Activists have urged the State government not to release money to private schools as fee reimbursement for students they had admitted under provisions of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE).

Ambiguities

They argue there are several ambiguities in the implementation of the 25 per cent reservation in private, unaided, non-minority schools in Tamil Nadu and hence the government should hold back payment of fees to private schools.

Earlier this month, following demands from the private schools that the State government reimburse the tuition fees for students admitted under RTE, a sum of Rs. 97 crore was taken as loan by Sarva Siksha Abhiyan from the State’s exchequer to pay schools for admitting students for 2013-14 and 2014-15.

It was only following this Government Order that many schools accepted applications for admissions for the academic year 2015-16.

“Despite news reports, there has been no action taken by the School Education Department. These parents are from marginalised sections and are being harassed by schools.

Due to the fear of their child being victimised, parents might not have made a formal complaint,” P.B. Prince Gajendra Babu from the All India Forum for Right to Education said.

Another issue with the implementation of the RTE is the charging of fees for uniforms, books and other additional expenses incurred.

“According to Section 3(2) of the RTE, no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing the elementary education,” he said, adding that in certain schools, the fee was as high as Rs. 25,000 a year for kindergarten students.

K.R. Nandakumar, secretary of Tamil Nadu nursery, primary, matriculation and higher secondary schools said it was unfair that students were forced to pay Rs. 8,000 and Rs. 9,000 for textbooks.

However, unless the government covered the cost of books as well, schools will be unable to purchase them for children.

“When it comes to additional fees such as computer classes, music classes, dance classes and other expenses, the fees committee should take these into consideration when fixing the fees of the school,” he pointed out.

Unaware of violations

A senior School Education department official said they were unaware of any violations of the RTE and assured they would look into the issue.

Activists said there have been instances of parents from poor backgrounds being harassed by schools

Source: The Hindu

Erode | RTE admissions in schools under scanner

Erode: The school education department has asked for daily reports from schools on their compliance with 25 per cent admission of children from economically poor families under Right to Education Act.

Meetings of principals were convened thrice to discuss the issue.

Nearly 2,000 admissions need to be made, and so far 900 students have been admitted under RTE quota. Measures are in place to ensure complete compliance by schools, Chief Educational Officer P. Ayyannan said.

Ignorance of parents that admissions under RTE could be made only at the entry level has been a setback in the district.

There was no scope for schools to admit children to higher levels, the CEO explained.

Private school managements have been cautioned against diverting parents of eligible children to nearby goverment schools.

Managements of non-minority educational institutions feel there is no clarity on who would constitute backward and disadvantaged children qualifying for admission to 25 per cent of the seats under RTE quota.

Besides offering free admission, schools are also required to provide such children with free notebooks, writing materials and uniforms.

The schools have not yet received reimbursement they are entitled to from the government for the money they had spent on the children.

The financial settlement to the schools pending for the last two years would be made shortly. The funds for the claims made are expected, the CEO said.

Source: The Hindu

TamilNadu | Private schools call for counselling to fill RTE Act seats

The Tamil Nadu Private Schools Association has called for bringing in a counselling system, akin to that conducted by the Government for engineering admissions, to fill the seats in the quota created by the Right To Education (RTE) Act.

The association has expressed its willingness to surrender the seats to the Government, which can directly fill the RTE Act quota. Such a system will eliminate charges of admitting ineligible students. A resolution to this effect was passed during an association meeting here on Monday.

Besides seeking an end to pressurising private schools to fill the RTE Act quota seats, the association said such a system would also bring in clarity in the admission process. While thanking the State Government for releasing funds to reimburse private schools, association president R. Visalakshmi said that the scope of the Act must be restricted. The current norms were too broad, she said, adding that it must be changed so that the Act benefitted only the economically weaker sections. She called for bringing down the income ceiling to Rs. 24,000 per year from the current limit of Rs. 2 lakh to become eligible for admissions under RTE Act.

She also sought the revival of an earlier system of according ‘permanent recognition’ to private schools which were functioning for more than ten years. Permanent recognition, which is not being given for the past 15 years, means that schools will only have to submit the structural stability, fire safety and sanitation certificates periodically. Now, schools also have to renew their recognition every three years in a process which they say is tedious and cumbersome.

Source: The Hindu 

Tamilnadu | Rectify flaws before paying schools for RTE

Activists have urged the State government not to release money to private schools as fee reimbursement for students they had admitted under provisions of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE).

They argue there are several ambiguities in the implementation of the 25 per cent reservation in private, unaided, non-minority schools in Tamil Nadu and hence the government should hold back payment of fees to private schools.

Earlier this month, following demands from private schools that the State government reimburse the tuition fees for students admitted under RTE, a sum of Rs. 97 crore was taken as loan by Sarva Siksha Abhiyan from the State’s exchequer to pay schools for admitting students for 2013-14 and 2014-15. It was only following this Government Order that many schools accepted applications for admissions for the academic year 2015-16.

“Despite news reports, there has been no action taken by the School Education Department. These parents are from marginalised sections and are being harassed by schools. Due to the fear of their child being victimised, parents might not have made a formal complaint,” P.B. Prince Gajendra Babu from the All India Forum for Right to Education said.

Another issue with the implementation of the RTE is the charging of fees for uniforms, books and other additional expenses incurred. “According to Section 3(2) of the RTE, no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing the elementary education,” he said, adding that in certain schools, the fee was as high as Rs. 25,000 a year for kindergarten students.

K.R. Nandakumar, secretary of Tamil Nadu nursery, primary, matriculation and higher secondary schools said it was unfair that students were forced to pay Rs. 8,000 and Rs. 9,000 for textbooks. However, unless the government covered the cost of books as well, schools will be unable to purchase them for children. “When it comes to additional fees like computer classes, music classes and other expenses, the fees committee should take these into consideration when fixing the fees of the school,” he pointed out. A senior School Education department official said they were unaware of any violations of the RTE and assured they would look into the issue.

Activists said there have been instances of parents from poor backgrounds being harassed by schools

Source: The Hindu