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

TamilNadu | Hundreds log in for RTE admissions

On Day 1, Chennai has the highest number of applicants; online counters to be open till May 18

Online applications under the Right to Education (RTE) Act opened up at the midnight of April 20 and the first application was received by the education department as early as 12.48 a.m. from a parent in East Tambaram.

At 7.50 p.m. on day 1 of the process, the School Education Department had received 1,246 applications.

Speaking to The Hindu, School Education Secretary T. Udhayachandran said the department had gone ahead with initiating an online process for RTE admissions to bring in more transparency. “We had previously heard reports about a few schools refusing to admit students under the RTE and through this process, there will be fewer roadblocks for parents. While schools are allowed to issue RTE forms, they have been instructed to upload the details online as well or send the forms to the education offices in their area,” Mr. Udhayachandran said.

Chennai education district received the highest number of RTE applications from parents, followed by Tiruvallur and Salem education districts.

A parent filling in the RTE form online can view the seats available and select the schools in their respective areas. Parents who apply are then sent a confirmation with an SMS once the form has been submitted.

e-seva centres

While the department has only partly taken applications online, parents can approach the e-seva centres in their districts or can seek help from the District Education Offices to submit forms in case they don’t have access to computers. The online counters for RTE applications will be open till May 18. With a number of private schools taking their admission process online, the move to shift RTE admissions online was welcomed by educationalists as it would streamline the process. Earlier this month, the education department had announced that it was taking the process partly online and had published the list of schools and seats available online as well.

“If there are educational districts which receive more applications than the number of seats available, the Education Department will arrange for lots to be picked. This will not be online, but will be done manually in front of the parents and children to ensure that they are aware of the process,” Mr. Udhayachandran said.

Source: The Hindu

Tamil nadu | Online RTE admissions from April 20

With 5,138 seats in 669 matriculation schools, the Tiruvallur education district has the highest number of seats available under the Right to Education Act for the 2017-18 academic year.

The admissions will also be done online in Tamil Nadu this year and will be open from April 20 through the website of the School Education Department.

The facility to have online counters for RTE admissions is already in place in New Delhi and Maharashtra.

Under the RTE Act, 25% of the seats at the entry level classes in schools should be earmarked for students from the weaker sections of the society.

The School Education Department has separately provided details about the seats available under the RTE Act in matriculation schools as well as nursery schools in each district online in a move to help parents identify institutions in their neighbourhood.

The Chennai and Kancheepuram educational districts follow Tiruvallur with 4,914 seats and 4,042 seats which have been set aside under the RTE Act.

e-seva centres

To use the online service, parents can approach the e-seva centres in their districts or can seek help from the District Education Offices. Parents who apply for admissions online will receive a confirmation with an SMS, an official from the Education Department said.

While the online counters for RTE applications will be kept open till May 18, parents will be able to go to the educational institutions in person and apply, as well as submit RTE forms.

The move to take the application process partly online for RTE seats has been welcomed by educationists and activists many of whom have been appealing to the government for the past few years to make the process more transparent and fair.

“Making the RTE applications available online will hopefully streamline the process. There have been several instances where people have gone to schools with recommendations and money to buy seats set aside under the RTE Act, and we hope this will come down,” said K.R. Nandhakumar, State general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary and Matriculation Schools Association.

The State government, in a statement, said that ₹125 crore has been allotted for students who were admitted under the RTE Act in 2013-14 and 2014-15 and who continue studying in schools across the State.

The settlements will reach the educational institutions soon, the statement added.

Source: The Hindu

Uttar Pradesh | BJP walks out from UP House over ‘non-compliance’ with RTE

BJP today staged a walkout from the  Legislative Assembly against non-admission of poor and underprivileged students in public schools under the Act.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, BJP member Agarwal said as per the RTE guidelines by the Centre, 25 percent seats would be reserved for children from poor and underprivileged sections.

However, under its guidelines the UP government has exempted public schools, he alleged.

Citing the example of Gorakhpur, he said only 63 such students got admission in public schools in the city last year.

He demanded stern action against officials who prepared the guidelines.

BJP Legislature party leader alleged the government was not sensitive to poor and does not want their children to study in good schools.

The BJP members later walked out of the House.

Source : Business Standard

Nagpur | Schools take tough stance on non-payment of RTE bills

Nagpur: The tussle over Right To Education (RTE) quota admission and its reimbursements looks to be heading for a faceoff. On Thursday, a small group of private schools from Nagpur city approached the education department and questioned why they should continue to give RTE admissions when the government has paid only 66% of their bills. Schools are also learnt to be mulling the option of stopping RTE admissions for 2016-17, at least for sometime, to send a strong message to the government.

The school delegation met with district education officer Dipendra Lokhande and stressed on the “financial crisis” they are facing due to RTE bills not being reimbursed fully. Avantika Lekurwale, a school trustee, said, “The government has paid us just over two thirds for the two academic sessions 2012-14. Nothing has been paid for 2014-15 even though the 2015-16 academic session is almost over. The government must give in writing about what step we should take regarding RTE admissions.”

Many trustees believe stopping RTE admissions maybe the only way to compel the government to pay up but are holding back because of legal implications. Having become a statutory right, school education cannot be denied to a child. Hence schools coming under the ambit of RTE admission quota, are liable to face legal action if they stop admissions. Rajendra Dayma, founder-member of the Independent English Schools Association (IESA), said, “We are discussing the issue and very soon a meeting with will be held. As of today, there is no call for boycott of admissions.”

The government wants to nip this thought in the bud itself. Nand Kumar, principal secretary of school education, said, “If any school says they have not received even a single rupee under RTE it is a fraudulent statement, and we can file a police complaint against those who make such claims. And as per law, RTE admissions cannot be denied at all.”

Kumar’s statement is only partially true. Since schools have not received even a single paisa for academic session 2014-15 and 2015-16 they do have a strong case. Rajendra Singh, president of Federation of Pvt. Unaided Schools Associations, said, “The financial burden on schools is enormous because 25% of the revenue is blocked. This puts pressure on the remaining 75% students who pay regular fees. We do not want any child to be inconvenienced, all we are asking for is what the government had promised in the first place.”

While there is no official boycott of RTE admissions yet, just the fact that schools have started thinking in that direction is clear indication the government cannot push them around anymore. A school trustee said, “It has to be a two way street. We give RTE admissions and the state reimburses. As of now, it has become one-way. It’s time to raise our voice as after all our demands are completely fair and legal.”

WHAT IS THE ISSUE?

* Private schools admit poor students in 25% seats under RTE

* State govt is supposed to pay Rs 13,000 per year/per student to schools against these students

* Schools have given admission under RTE since 2012-13 session

* They received the first payment in November 2015; that too only 66% of the bill

* This too government paid only for 2012-13 and 2013-14

* No payment yet for 2014-15 and 2015-16

* Schools say if government is not paying, why shoudn’t they stop admission

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

* Government will wait for schools to stop RTE admissions before taking action

* Schools to plan action keeping legal implications in mind

* By next week things may be clearer

NUMBER GAME

580 – Schools in Nagpur district eligible for RTE reimbursements

Rs. 40 crore – approximate amount needed to cover entire bill from 2012-14 to 2015-16

Rs 3 crore – approximate amount received so far

Source : The Times Of India

Pune | RTE admissions :Website stays shut as deadline lapses; schools worried about delays

Despite the fiasco over the 25 per cent quota admissions for students from the economically weaker sections under Right to Education (RTE) Act last year, the education department seems to have learnt no lessons. After delaying the 2016-17 admission process for weeks by claiming to come up with a new software, the primary education department finally announced that the statewide schedule for RTE admissions starting with school registrations would begin from February 27 in Pune.

However, despite the last date (March 5) coming to an end by when schools were supposed to have finished the registration process, the online website developed specifically for this purpose wasn’t allowing any schools to register. Thanks to a software glitch, not a single school in the district has finished the registration process

While a few schools have been informed about the delay in the process informally, the department, which issued an official communication about the last schedule, is yet to announce a new schedule officially, leaving both schools and even parents in confusion. In the online RTE admission process, first school registration has to be completed wherein schools have to fill data about their entry point and total intake based on which education department gets an area-wise data on number of RTE quota seats available. This will be followed by online registration by parents of their children and lastly lots will be drawn for allotting seats. In this case, the first process itself has not yet started.

“The entire issue that arose last year was due to a lack of timetable and planning. It’s a good move that they are coming out with a new software. But if the dates are being extended or delayed, shouldn’t they inform all stakeholders through a public announcement?

 According to the last announcement, parents were to begin registration from March 8. Yesterday, one parent came to my school and said he wanted to register and I explained to him he had to do it online. But from Monday, if they aren’t able to do that, again chaos will begin,” said Nandkumar Kakirde, director and honorary secretary of Bal Shikshan Bhavan.

Anvit Sudheer Pathak, director of Milennium School, also confirmed he wasn’t able to register but said he had been informally communicated that registrations would be delayed. “But they should come out with a circular to avoid the confusion which other schools might naturally be facing,” Pathak said.

Meanwhile, Dinkar Temkar, deputy director of education (primary), admitted to the delay in the process which he blamed on technical glitches in the new software. “We had earlier expected to finish the process of school registration by March 5, but it could not be done. So I think there would be some minor delays in the process. Currently, we have resolved the issue and started school registration only in Nashik district. If it is successfully done there, rest of the districts would follow suit from next week,” he said. However, when asked if a fixed date had been decided for the process to begin in Pune, Temkar said the picture would be clearer by Saturday evening about the Nashik situation after which further dates would be declared.

Source : The Indian Express

Pune | Activists complain RTE admissions not on right track

Pune: Yet another delay in effecting the Right to Education (RTE) admissions for 25% reserved seats has made the activists wary of the outcome this season which begins in June.

 The education department, on its part, claimed the admission procedure would be carried out smoothly.

 Activists say the lottery, which is to be held in March, will be too late for children belonging to the disadvantaged category to get admission in schools because there is a possibility their name does not come up in the lucky draw. Many unaided schools end the admissions to remaining 75% seats by March. The activists have sought strict punishment for school managements that refuse to fulfill RTE admissions.
“Most reputed unaided schools in the city will complete their admission process by the end of this month. Many parents are in a dilemma. They don’t know if they should seek admission by regular mode or should they wait for the admissions through RTE’s online procedure to start. The problem is that if the parents wait for the RTE procedure to get over, it is possible their ward’s name may not come up in the draw. In that case, the child stands to miss out on one academic year. But the parents also cannot take admissions now because non-refundable fee for the year has to be paid up front in many schools,” said Mukund Kirdat, an RTE activist.
Activists have also sought grievance redressal systems at ward level so that parents do not have to go to zilla parishad or the municipal corporation’s education department for addressing their grievances. Accepting their demand, Ramchandra Jadhav, deputy director Pune division, said, “We have decided to make the assistant administrative officer in every ward the grievance redressal officer. He or she will be given three days time to look into the complaint and come up with a solution. If the assistant administrative officer is unable to do so, he will have to report it to the education officer at the Zilla Parishad or the corporation. Parents should approach the deputy director office only if both these officials fail to solve their problem. Parents should use the toll free education helpline number 18002331899.”

Nagpur | Process for RTE admissions in schools under 25% quota announced

Nagpur: The Maharashtra Education Department has announced the schedule as well as norms for admissions to schools under 25 percent quota as part of Right To Education Act (RTE) for the next academic session across the State. The process for admissions will commence from February 29 in Nagpur Division. The Government, faced with the numerous problems in the process for both online and offline admissions, has come up with proper stage-wise planning to ensure proper compliance this time.

Now, the RTE admission process will be in three steps. First will be registration of schools in the online database being managed by National Informatics Centre (NIC), a government body, which will start on February 29. Schools will have to fill all details about their class strength and their entry point. Schools’ entry point can either be Standard-I or pre-primary, this has been left up to the schools to decide. However, so far, there has been no official commitment from the State Government on whether or not they will reimburse fees for pre-primary admissions. As of now, the government will only reimburse schools for all RTE quota admissions they give from Standard-I to Standard-VIII. The reimbursement amount will be decided solely by the government, which was last year just over Rs13,000 per annum.

The second phase, starting March 11, will be where parents fill up admission forms. The system will chose the closest school according to the address entered by parents and location tracking using Google Maps. Parents can give options so the next available seat can be secured. Filling the admission form does not guarantee a seat in schools, it is merely a requirement to participate in the lottery. The lottery is the only way through which admissions can be secured in schools. The third phase will be of the admission lottery itself, which will be held on April 1.

Following is the programme:
• Schools have to get registered from February 29 to March 9.
• Parents have to submit applications for admissions from March 11 to 28.
• Key Tools Admissions:
i) The one-time passward will get generated on mobile phones through which information regarding lottery will be furnished. A permanent mobile phone number is must for parents.
ii) Parents having annual income below Rs 1 lakh are eligible for admissions under RTI. Income certificate issued by Tehsil Office will have to be produced.
iii) The age of children for admissions to Standard-I should be five years on July 31, 2016.
iv) Documents required are domicile certificate, Aadhar card, ration card, election ID, passport, rent agreement of three years for parents staying in rented houses.
v) Birth certificate of children and two photos of passport size.
vi) Website is: www.rte25admission.maharashtra.gov.in

Source: Nagpur Today

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 

Jharkhand | Bokaro DC raps schools for violating RTE norms

BOKARO: The district administration has taken a tough stand against public schools directing them to comply with the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

The move comes amid complaints of RTE norm violations by private schools in Bokaro. The district has in the past five years seen several protests against the exorbitant fees charged by the schools.

Bokaro deputy commissioner (DC) Rai Mahimapat Ray made an effort to solve the issue by holding a meeting with the officials of the education department and principals for proper implementation of the RTE Act before the commencement of the new academic session.

Representatives of 29 non-aided private schools, which come under purview of RTE in the district, participated in the meeting held on Tuesday.

The DC instructed the principals to strictly adhere to the RTE guidelines while admitting children from the weaker sections at the entry- level class.

The RTE Act entails that schools must provide 25% reservation to children from the weaker section. Those children whose family income is within 72,000 are entitled to this privilege.

“As many schools are situated in the industrial town where there is no notified slum within a radius of one kilometre, the institution should admit children from a radius of up to three to six kilometres,” said the DC.

A schedule related to the beginning of admissions of the poor children on 25% seats in the schools has been announced by the DC.

Ray said the principals were asked to stop charging re-admission fees or any other charges under heads like activity fees, establishment charges, development charge, miscellaneous expenditure, etc from the students.

 The screening test of parents during the admission should also not be taken by the schools. They should adopt lottery system for admissions in entry level.
“Injustice with parents will not be tolerated, especially in connection with violation of RTE. A four-member committee headed by the district education officer has been constituted to monitor the activities in this regard,” said Rai.

Source : The Times of India