Maharashtra | HC upholds two-level entry RTE rules in schools

Mumbai: The Bombay high court in an important order on Friday upheld the Maharashtra government’s rules that specified two entry levels — one at the pre primary and the second one at class 1 — for admissions under the twenty five per cent quota under the Right To Education. A division bench of Justice Anoop Mohta and Justice Vijay Achliya upheld the 25 per cent quota and asked the state to set up an advisory council as per provisions of the RTE law.

The dispute was over the January 2015 rules that specified two levels of entry — one at the pre primary level and the other at Class One, in cases where the number of seats differed at these classes requiring fresh admissions in a school. For example a school which had 100 seats in pre primary classes had to reserve 25 per cent for students for economically weak and disadvantaged sections of the society under RTE. At Class one if the school had 200 seats, then it had to set apart an additional 25 seats to meet the RTE quota. The two levels of entry were not applicable in schools which had the same number of seats at both classes. Private schools had opposed this rule. The state and NGOs had said that the two levels of entry were necessary to ensure that the 25 per cent RTE quota was implemented at every class.

Source: The Times of India

Maharashtra | HC reserves order on plea challenging RTE quota rules

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Thursday reserved its orders on petitions filed by private schools challenging a January 2015 government resolution that specified two levels of entry for admissions under the Right To Education (RTE) quota.

A division bench of Justice Anoop Mohta and Justice Vijay Achliya heard arguments by schools, NGOs as well the state government.

The January rules were reintroduced last month by the state government after it withdrew a controversial April 30, 2015, rule that allowed private schools to cancel pre-primary admissions under the RTE quota. The January rules specified two levels of entry: one at the pre-primary level and the other at class I in cases where the number of seats differed at these classes requiring fresh admissions in a school. For example, a school which had 100 seats in pre-primary classes had to reserve 25% for students from economically weak and disadvantaged sections of the society under RTE. In Class I, if the school had 200 seats, it had to set apart an additional 25% seats to meet the RTE quota.

Advocate Chetan Mali, counsel for Pune-based NGO Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat, said that the two levels of entry were necessary to ensure that the 25% RTE quota was implemented at every class

The state said that schools that had the same number of seats at both pre-primary and class I will not have two entry levels. The schools, however, said that the two entry levels were not provided in the RTE law. The other dispute was about whether the schools would have to keep vacant seats that had not been filled in the RTE quota. The state refused to reimburse the fees towards vacant seats.

As on July 2015, only 8,799 students were admitted in schools after the first round under the RTE. Over 22,406 students are still waiting for admissions under the RTE quota across Maharashtra for the 2015-16 academic year to pre-primary and class I.

Source: The Times of India

Maharashtra | HC to decide on RTE rules for private schools in Maharashtra

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Thursday reserved its orders on petitions filed by private schools challenging a January 2015 Maharashtra government resolution that specified two levels of entry for admissions under the Right To Education quota. A division bench of justice Anoop Mohta and Justice Vijay Achliya heard arguments by schools, NGOs as well the state government.

The January rules were reintroduced last month by the state government after it withdrew a controversial April 30, 2015, rule that allowed private schools to cancel pre-primary admissions under the RTE quota. The January rules specified two levels of entry — one at the pre primary level and the other at class One, in cases where the number of seats differed at these classes requiring fresh admissions in a school. For example a school which had 100 seats in pre-primary classes had to reserve 25 per cent for students for economically weak and disadvantaged sections of the society under RTE. At Class one if the school had 200 seats, then it had to set apart an additional 25 seats to meet the RTE quota. Advocate Chetan Mali, counsel for Pune-based NGO Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat, said that the two levels of entry were necessary to ensure that the 25 per cent RTE quota was implemented at every class.

The state said that schools that had the same number of seats at both pre primary and Class one will not have two entry levels. The schools however said that the two entry levels were not provided in the RTE law. The other dispute was to about whether the schools would have to keep vacant seats that had not been filled in the RTE quota. The state refused to reimburse the fees towards vacant seats.

Source: The Times of India

Pune | NGOs cry foul over RTE, slam govt

Pune: Four years since implementation, Act is still fraught with irregularities, bemoan schools and parents, blame government for mess

The government’s inability to successfully enforce the Right to Education (RTE) Act, even four years since its inception, shows its apathy towards the plight of marginalised students, say NGOs working in the sector. Organisations trying to help parents seek admission under the RTE Act are collating data from across the state regarding the different failings of the government. This will soon be presented before the Bombay High Court, where a petition has already been filed.

The organisations, including two from Pune, are talking to aggrieved parents, whose children were denied basic facilities they are entitled to. Several students, it was found, are attending schools without proper uniforms, because the government and schools are unable to decide who will bear costs. A similar situation also arises over study material, with the schools and state still playing blame games.

“The Act states that no child can be deprived of elementary education, and that the government should take responsibility for this. The state had issued a circular in 2011, saying fees will be reimbursed by the government, but uniforms and learning material will be provided by the schools. The schools are now flouting the order, but the government is ignoring this situation by not taking any action,” said Harshad Barde, a member of the city-based organisation Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Parishad (KKPKP).

“The other thing that needs to be considered is that students who have taken admission under RTE get psychologically affected because there are no guidelines regarding extra-curricular activities. A child sits in class in civil clothes because the school doesn’t give him/her a uniform. This child suffers great emotional stress. They also aren’t allowed to participate in extra-curricular activities due to financial reasons. Such differential treatment in classrooms isn’t healthy. We are collating data and will highlight these in court. Where the government failed, we hope the court can set certain guidelines,” he added.

In their defence, the schools are presenting the Act in original that places complete responsibility on the government to assist students in private schools. Rajendra Singh, Pune president of the Maharashtra English School Trustees Association (MESTA), said, “The Act states that no financial burden shall be put on the parents of students admitted under RTE or on schools where they seek admission. The government is going against the law by issuing circulars stating the schools will provide uniforms and study material. There are Supreme Court verdicts in particular cases which back up this argument. Additional facilities being made available in schools will always come at a price, because the schools themselves are being charged by the companies providing these. The government can perhaps take advantage of CSR funding programmes to help these students. No school is against the RTE Act. They just want the government to fulfil its responsibility towards them.”

Dinkar Temkar, deputy director of primary education, looking after RTE admissions, said, “The court case regarding this is currently going on. It wouldn’t be appropriate to speak about school facilities now. The government is focussing on completing admissions this year as per the court order.”

Meanwhile, the association of schools is conducting a rally outside Balbharti, which houses the office of the commissioner of education, urging clarity in the implementation of the Act.

There are no guidelines regarding extra-curricular activities. RTE students sit in classrooms wearing civil clothes and don’t participate in these activities.

Source: Pune Mirror

Pune | Pay for uniforms & stationery, schools tell RTE students

Pune: Pay for stationery and uniform or manage on your own, schools in the city have told parents of beneficiary students admitted under 25% reservation scheme of the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

Despite clear provisions under the RTE Act, which makes it mandatory for schools to provide free books and uniforms to students belonging to the economically weaker sections of society, parents have alleged that schools have been demanding money, up to Rs 5,000, for uniform and stationery.

If parents fail to pay the amount, schools avoid sending daily worksheets to the children, even refraining from providing the child’s progress report. A meeting of parents, particularly of wards benefiting from RTE, was held on Wednesday wherein parents raised these issues.

Sagar Danke, a driver with a firm in Pimpri, said, “My daughter was admitted to the nursery section last year and the school co-operated throughout. I did not have to pay any money throughout the year. But when she moved to junior kindergarten this year, the school has been asking to pay towards the stationery and uniform. The class teacher has asked me to pay Rs 3,500 since the school term began. When said that as a beneficiary of RTE, the school has to provide stationery and uniform, the teacher refused to accept my case.”

Danke claims that the teacher asks for the money every time he picks up his daughter from the school. At a parent-teacher meeting, on Saturday, Danke was given a piece of paper, which listed the activities done by children in school, while all other parents were handed worksheets and files along with a progress card.

Over 100 parents of students, who were admitted under the 25% reservation scheme, raised their grievances regarding schools allegedly forcing parents to pay the money. “Even government officials have shown apathy in this matter. When we protest, officials ask us why we are complaining and whether getting free admission, wasn’t enough,” said Shailaja Aralkar, an activist with Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP).

While many parents said that they were not aware of the legal entitlements, some were skeptical about taking up the issue with schools. Others, who have stood their ground, also have stories to tell. “The school that my child attends refused to provide the stationery material even after I showed them the legal provisions. My child has attended school without uniform or books for the entire academic year,” Sangita Chandbodhle, a parent, said.

Source: The Times of India

Pune | MESTA to take rally to edu dept over RTE fee reimbursements

Pune: English-medium schools organisation says it is becoming difficult to sustain operations

After being repeatedly snubbed by the state education department over long-standing promises of fee reimbursements under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, as many as 10,000 English-medium schools across the state — members of the Maharashtra English School Trustees Association (MESTA) — have decided take out a rally to the education commissionerate office in Pune on August 7.

According to MESTA, they have been hearing for a while from the state education department that they would be receiving reimbursement amounts, but not a single school has received these so far.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, MESTA president Sanjay Tayde Patil said, “It seems the government is not at all interested in implementing the Act properly. For the last four years, they have not been able to pay us our fee reimbursements as mandated under the RTE Act.”

He added that the entire RTE Act is undoubtedly efficient — however, it is only the lethargic attitude of the government that has messed up the implementation of 25 per cent admissions to economically disadvantaged children.

“We even had two meetings with education minister Vinod Tawde, but he has failed to understand the issues and concerns of schools. We have been receiving empty promises on the reimbursement issue for too long,” Patil said.

MESTA spokesperson Rajendra Singh said, “It has been very difficult for small English-medium schools to carry out their daily functioning for a long time now. All of them have been facing an acute financial crunch because of zero fee reimbursements for the last four years.” He added that the situation is quite grave in rural areas, where even parents whose wards are in the 75 per cent category are often unable to pay full fees. If the government is not paying reimbursements in such cases, schools will find it difficult to survive.

Singh added, “Since the government has turned adeaf ear to our demands, we will storm into the education commissioner’s office this Friday.”

Source: Pune Mirror

Mumbai | Schools to challenge RTE rules before HC

Mumbai: Private schools are planning to challenge the January 2015 Maharashtra government resolution that specified two levels of entry for admissions under the Right To Education quota. The Bombay high court on Tuesday gave the schools time to amend their petition following the government’s decision to revive the January rules. A division bench of Justice Anoop Mohta and Justice Vijay Achliya scheduled the matter for further hearing on August 6, 2015.

The state had last week informed the HC that it had withdrawn a controversial April 30, 2015, rule that allowed private schools to cancel pre primary admissions under the RTE quota. It revived the January rules two levels of entry — one at the pre primary level and the other at Class One, in cases where the number of seats differed at these classes requiring fresh admissions in a school. The state said that this was necessary in order to ensure that the 25 per cent RTE quota for students from economically weak sections of the society in private schools can be maintained in every class.

According to statistics submitted by the state government, as of July 21, 2015, over 22,406 students are still waiting for admissions under the RTE quota across Maharashtra for the 2015-16 academic year to pre-primary and Class one. In 13 districts, including Mumbai and Thane, around 31,205 applications were verified by the state for admissions to pre-primary and standard one in the RTE quota. Of these only 8,799 students were actually admitted in schools after the first round.Private schools are planning to challenge the January 2015 Maharashtra government resolution that specified two levels of entry for admissions under the Right To Education quota. The Bombay high court on Tuesday gave the schools time to amend their petition following the government’s decision to revive the January rules. A division bench of Justice Anoop Mohta and Justice Vijay Achliya scheduled the matter for further hearing on August 6, 2015.

The state had last week informed the HC that it had withdrawn a controversial April 30, 2015, rule that allowed private schools to cancel pre primary admissions under the RTE quota. It revived the January rules two levels of entry — one at the pre primary level and the other at Class One, in cases where the number of seats differed at these classes requiring fresh admissions in a school. The state said that this was necessary in order to ensure that the 25 per cent RTE quota for students from economically weak sections of the society in private schools can be maintained in every class.

According to statistics submitted by the state government, as of July 21, 2015, over 22,406 students are still waiting for admissions under the RTE quota across Maharashtra for the 2015-16 academic year to pre-primary and Class one. In 13 districts, including Mumbai and Thane, around 31,205 applications were verified by the state for admissions to pre-primary and standard one in the RTE quota. Of these only 8,799 students were actually admitted in schools after the first round.

Source: The Times of India

Mumbai | Only 12 RTE admissions confirmed post HC order

Mumbai: Even as the Bombay high court, earlier this month, asked the state government to conduct admissions under the Right to Education Act’s 25% quota, at both the pre-primary and Class I levels, over 650 students who have been allotted a seat are yet to secure admissions. Following the HC order, only 12 students confirmed the admissions after the HC order.

The HC had instructed the state to withdraw a government resolution dated April 30, which allowed schools to cancel RTE admissions at the pre-primary level. Though the BMC, which is the implementing agency, restarted the RTE admissions post the order, between July 10 and 21, only 12 new admissions were confirmed. Out of 4,104 applicants only 1,404 have been admitted.

“We had kept the admission portal on but not many turned up to seek admission and many schools continue to not abide by the rules Admissions are still open,” said a civic official.

The BMC will also conduct a second round of admissions for children who failed to get a seat in round one. “We can decide on the second round dates only after the first round backlog is cleared,” said the official.

Source: The Times of India

Maharashtra | Government scraps GR that nixed pre-primary admissions under RTE

Mumbai: In a major relief to hundreds of students, the state government has withdrawn its earlier resolution of April 30 announcing that admissions in pre-primary section were not covered under the Right to Education Act.

A division bench of Anoop Mohta and V L Achliya was informed by the state on Friday that it had withdrawn the resolution. Now admissions will take place in pre-primary as well as primary sections as per state’s previous government resolution of January 21, the government told the court.

According to the state, admissions under RTE will start again and the first round that had remained incomplete would be completed by July 28.

Representing the government, advocate Nitin Deshpande said, “The government has decided to issue a GR along the lines of the January 21 resolution. Following objection by schools to admissions in both primary and pre-primary sections, the government had come out with a new GR on April 30, stating that the benefit should given to kids taking admission in the first standard. We have explained to the court why admissions under RTE quota need to happen for pre-primary and primary sections.”

SM Paranjape, co-convener of Anudanit Shiksha Bachaao Samiti, said, “We are happy that the state will allow children to take admissions under RTE in both sections. But this has delayed the admission process a lot.”

Source: DNA

Karnataka | Govt plans to bring BPL family kids under RTE

Bengaluru: Minister for primary and secondary education Kimmane Ratnakar on Saturday said the department is contemplating extending the ambit of Right To Education to include all children from BPL families on priority.

The government also intends to start Lower Kinder Garten (LKG) in government schools across the state, the minister said.

Speaking to reporters at Congress Bhavan, Ratnakar said the decision to extend RTE quota to BPL card-holders was taken due to lack of transparency in issuing income certificates.

Source: The Times of India