Tamil Nadu | State may shun duty as Centre approves kindergarten in Right To Education

Coimbatore: The Centre’s decision to include RTE admissions in kindergarten, may bring relief to some parents who could not have previously admitted their 3 and 4-year-old children to private schools, but it has completely relieved the state government of its responsibility to provide access to free education at the kindergarten level. Since there is no kindergarten in state government schools, it will impact enrolment, especially in rural areas.

On Saturday, the Centre told the Madras high court that kindergarten admissions would also be covered under the ambit of Right to Education, clearing the confusion over the reimbursement for private schools, that has been due for three years now.

Under RTE that was implemented in Tamil Nadu in 2012, private schools must reserve 25% seats for admission under this category. As per the rules, private schools would be reimbursed the tuition fees they have spent towards the education of the child admitted under RTE.

The absence of kindergarten in government schools, and the clearance by the Centre to cover kindergarten admissions in private schools under RTE, will help the state government reduce its expenditure on RTE. “The Centre’s decision will hamper enrolment in elementary and private schools in rural areas. When parents are eligible for free education in private schools, they are likely to opt for a private school over a government school,” the official said.

“In the last two years, I have observed that elementary school enrolment has dipped. In many primary schools in rural areas, children across all ages sit in the same classroom,” she said.

 The state government has introduced KG in some schools across the state to test the system. However, a full-fledged system is not in place yet.
 According to the district information system for education (DISE), 31% enrolment every year takes place in private schools. “The government can prevent the enrolment from dropping if it extends the RTE to Anganvadis, and formally introduce kindergarten education,” another officer of the school education department said.
Director of ChangeIndia, A Narayanan, feels that the RTE Act does not serve its purpose of providing free education to the poor and needy. “The act has failed to serve its purpose. The state government has failed to deliver when it comes to free education for those in need,” he said.

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