Pune | Wastepickers’ association drafts plan to implement RTE Act

PUNE: The city-based Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP) in association with the SNDT College has drafted a list of recommendations for effective implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

These recommendations include better management of help centres, effective grievance redressal system and end discrimination in schools among others. The draft was prepared during a programme jointly organized by the SNDT Women’s University’s Department of Continuing & Adult Education & Extension and the KKPKP. As many as 100 parents came together to discuss their experiences and that of their childrens’ while interacting with schools and the state administration.

“The Act is in its fourth year of implementation, so it is a good time to take stock of the issues in city and Pimpri Chinchwad from the parents’ perspective. Parents, mostly from the working class, shared both positive and negative experiences in the first session. The common thread was the parents their desire to ensure what they considered will provide their children with the best education- an English-medium private school,” said Poornima Chikarmane of the SNDT University during a press conference on Monday.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Wastepickers-association-drafts-plan-to-implement-RTE-Act/articleshow/47239503.cms

During the meet, parents discussed about uncooperative officials who delayed income certificates, hostile schools and also how they were made to run from pillar to post for documents. “I have studied till class II, but I want my daughter to be a collector,” said Jyoti Shinde, who took part in the discussion.

The report of the programme prepared by SNDT University and the KKPKP also highlighted that the RTE Act has made it difficult for the parents and children. However, what remains is to ensure that the provisions are implemented in the spirit, the report said.

“The gathering resolved to send a petition to the state education minister and the chief minister,” said Maitrayee Shankar of the KKPKP. The Akhil Bhartiya Samajwadi Adhyapak Sabha, the Action for the Rights of the Child (ARC), Swadhar and Maher also participated in the event.

Source: The Times of India

Pune | Ambiguity over reimbursement hampering RTE implementation

PUNE: Ensuring timely reimbursement of fees to schools, clarity on who must bear expenses of students’ uniforms and stationery, more help centres to fill application forms, provision for choice of school in order of preference and enabling child-tracking to gauge progress of students are some of the suggestions made by researchers of the RTE Resource Centre at the Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad) for smoother implementation of Right to Education (RTE) Act in Maharashtra.

The report is an outcome of an interaction with various stakeholders of the RTE Act. Researcher Nishank Varshney has said in the report that the most crucial issue hindering smooth implementation of the RTE Act is the reimbursement to be provided to the private unaided schools by the government. Varshney said, “The 25% reservation through RTE had given a window of hope to people from underprivileged background to get quality education for free. However, implementation hurdles are dampening these hopes.”

The report lists 16 important obstacles in implementing the act. Varshney said, “The 25 % reservation rule of the RTE Act is a complex social policy, based on reciprocal arrangements between the government, school and parents. The experience of the past two to three years have revealed some ambiguities in the act, with the state government constantly being drawn to court for either the lax implementation or incorrect interpretation of the act.”

For instance, Varshney said the legislation is unclear on the legal obligation of reimbursement at the pre-primary level and the consequences if the number of students from the economically weaker section (EWS) admitted to a school is greater than the minimum 25% mandated by the act. He said, “For instance, the Maharashtra government refuses to reimburse schools at the pre-primary level, while the Madhya Pradesh government provides for reimbursement of all EWS children.”

The researchers have identified and tried to clarify issues based on the centre’s primary study and discussions with important stakeholders.

The confusion surrounding the RTE admissions has also faced criticism from education activists. John Kurrien, member of city-based forum Action for the Rights of the Child (ARC), said, “The entire online process of admitting and selecting students under the 25% reservation provision has been vitiated by ad hoc decisions and policies which have not been adequately reflected upon and discussed. The decision to allow private schools to make pre-primary admissions voluntary reflects this approach a lack of application of mind to the issue at hand. In addition to it being an illegal and pedagogically unsound decision, there will be further confusion and problems unless this decision is immediately withdrawn.”

ARC is, however, appreciative of the online registration and selection system introduced by the state government, which has been a great help to parents and schools.

Source: The Times of India

Mumbai | Fadnavis orders action against schools not following RTE quota rule

Mumbai: Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has directed the Maharashtra state administration to issue notices to schools which have failed to reserve 25% seats under Right to Education Act for the economically weaker section.

Fadnavis was hearing complaints during the Lokshahi Din on Monday when he issued the directives.

For the first time, the forum was conducted through video-conferencing from offices of the district collectors across the state. Only complainants from Mumbai and Navi Mumbai were called to the chief minister’s office.

A parent from Navi Mumbai complained that the schools in his area have refused admission to his daughters. Although he wanted admission for his children in a particular school in Navi Mumbai, it was turned down and the school education department came up with other options.

When the chief minister was told that most schools do not follow the 25% quota rule under RTE Act, he asked the department to scrutinise admissions and issue notices to errant managements. He also asked the department for stricter action against schools which do not follow RTE quota rule.

Nand Kumar, principal secretary of school education, said: “We will initiate the process of scrutiny of the admissions by schools. Most of them have been following the RTE guidelines but some schools have reservations about the entry-level for admission.”

In another case, the CM directed the social justice department to refund fees of a student belonging to a reserved category. The student paid fees for two years as the department delayed in issuing caste verification certificate.

The government pays fees for professional courses for students from SC, ST and OBC categories.

Fadnavis also directed the department to issue the certificates within six months. He has also asked the department to submit him the monthly report of cases older than six months. Caste verification certificates are required for admissions in schools and colleges by students seeking scholarships.

Another complainant from Mumbai alleged corruption by Mhada officials. He said despite his legitimate claim, his flat was given to another applicant. The CM directed the officials to allot him a flat from Mhada’s master list.

The government also took up fresh cases which were lodged with Aaple Sarkar, the grievances redressal portal for online complaints. As many as 17 complaints were heard by Fadnavis in two hours. “This is for the first time in recent past that these many cases were heard by the CM,” said an officer.

Some cases need more probe
Though chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tried to take up as many as 17 fresh cases, officials later realised that the some of them did not deserve to be heard by the CM and more investigations were needed. One of the cases was for the transfer of a government employee, while another complainant requested an MIDC land in Nagpur.

“Earlier, select cases which had passed through the lower layers at the levels of district collectors and the divisional commissioners used to be presented before the CM. We took up fresh cases as an experiment but some of the choices proved to be wrong,” an official said.

Source: Hindustan Times

Pune | Fresh RTE resolution stumps parents

Pune: Garage mechanic Ganesh Kadam considered himself lucky after his 3-year-old son was granted admission to the City International School, Kothrud without any harassment he had seen others go through to get seats under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

His happiness, however, soon turned into despair as a government resolution dated April 30 restricted Class I as the entry point for admissions under the Act and the school authorities asked him to pay Rs 40,000 as yearly fees.

Expressing helplessness over producing such an amount, Kadam said: “Do I have an option? I will have to consider this given the fact that this is my son’s only chance to get quality education.”

The last-minute decision on the admissions at pre-primary level under the quota reserved for children from the economically weaker and disadvantaged sections of society has resulted into a lot of harassment for parents.

Vanita Sope had struggled to get her daughter admitted to New English School where the child had been allotted a seat under the quota last year. “I have heard that parents who admitted their children last year are now being asked to pay the fees or the child’s name will be removed from the rolls. My husband is an autorickshaw driver. Where will we get the money to pay two years’ fees?” she asked.

Seeking immediate cancellation of the resolution, activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Samajwadi Adhyapak Sabha said here on Wednesday that “it betrays the hopes of parents”.

“The admission process under the RTE Act began in January this year. Over the last four months, parents have spent their time, effort and sometimes even their daily wages to ensure that their wards are admitted to the allotted schools. However, all their efforts went into vain once the government came out with the resolution restricting Std I as the entry-point,” said Sharad Javadekar, convener of the Akhil Bharatiya Samajwadi Adhyapak Sabha, at a news conference here.

He blamed an anomaly in the law for the confusion that has been prevailing ever since the admission process under the Act began. “Section 12 (c) of the RTE Act clearly specifies that the 25% quota applies to children admitted ‘to Std I or pre-primary classes.’ However, the Act guarantees free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 years of age. We believe there is a need for this reservation at the pre-primary level,” Javadekar said.

Pointing at the inevitable troubles for the schools ahead, he said: “The problem will arise when admissions to Std I are completed by the schools because then they will be asked to accommodate children in the pre-primary classes.” How will these schools take in more students when they don’t even have an adequate infrastructure, he added.

The organisation plans to hold a series of protests against the resolution starting on May 8 when they will burn a copy of the document outside the office of the deputy director of education. “We will also take the matter to the guardian minister Girish Bapat and stage a protest outside his house on May 10 demanding that the state government reverse this decision,” he said.

The activists are also demanding intervention of the Union government as well as an amendment to the Act to clear up the anomaly for which they will stage protests outside the residence of MP Anil Shirole on May 13.

Source: The Times of India

Nagpur | Parents angry at education official over RTE fiasco

Nagpur: On Wednesday an NGO led a parents’ delegation to the deputy director of education (DDE) over multiple issues related to admissions under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. In about 10 schools in Nagpur, RTE admissions have come to a complete halt as there is still no clarity over interpretation of 25% RTE quota in new entry point of Std I. The silence of the state’s primary education director Mahavir Mane has compounded the problem as he has not even bothered to issue clear directives even after repeated requests from the Nagpur education department. The DDE has informed the NGO that he would soon be meeting school principals and sorting the issue out.

The bone of contention is varying interpretation of a government resolution issued last week. This GR changed the entry point for RTE admissions to Std I with immediate effect and asked schools to give admissions accordingly. Those schools that had accepted admissions under RTE in earlier classes were told to cancel them and guarantee admission to the affected kids three years later in Std I. However, there is a grey area with regards to schools who have RTE students in KG2 being promoted to Std I. The local education office and mantralaya have different interpretation of the GR over entry level.

As per Nagpur office, schools have to give admissions to 25% students in Std I. Schools say they have already completed the 25% quota since RTE KG 2 promotees are coming to Std I now. Both are adamant on their position and since the education department has failed to come out with clear directives, the problem continues.

An education department official said, “We requested our Pune head office to shed light on the vague points in GR but Mane has not taken any steps regarding this.” Mane did not answer TOI’s calls even after repeated attempts, nor did he respond to our queries. The last date for completing the admissions is May 13 but it is clear that unless the government clarifies, things would not be moving. A school principal said, “These frequent rule changes are a headache for all. The government should realize the amount of chaos it creates on the ground. As of now all of us (about 10 popular schools) have stopped admissions till we get clear instructions in writing.”

Source: The Times of India

Mumbai | Unaided schools approach HC over RTE quota

Mumbai: A group of private unaided schools have approached the Bombay high court to challenge the Maharashtra government’s new rules that scrapped the Right to Education (RTE) quota for pre-primary classes and set the entry level at Standard I. A division bench of Justices Anoop Mohta and K R Shriram told the government to respond to the petitions and has scheduled a hearing on May 7.

The state had on April 30 issued a circular that schools did not have to reserve 25% seats in pre-primary classes for students aged 3-6 from economically weaker sections of society. The RTE quota that ensures free education for students in the 25% quota would only be applicable from Class I. Private unaided schools were admitting students from economically weaker sections in pre-primary classes from nursery to senior KG under the 25% quota, which provides them free education. The state was to reimburse the fees. Last week, the HC ruled that the state government had to reimburse the fees for pre-primary classes for students admitted under the 25% quota. This led the state to issue a GR that the quota was not mandatory for pre-primary classes.

The GR allowed schools to cancel admissions of children who had been admitted in pre-primary classes this year and instead make space for them in Class I.

Source: The Times of India

Nagpur | Schools balk at giving free books, uniforms to RTE kids

Nagpur: After the education department’s major decision to change the Right to Education (RTE) Act admissions entry level to Std I, friction between schools and activists/parents is slowly erupting. Left totally at the mercy of schools now for nursery and KG sections, activists allege schools have not been keeping their end of the bargain.

A few parents called up TOI on Wednesday claiming that CBSE schools were demanding anywhere between Rs 2,000 -5,000 for books, uniforms and miscellaneous expenditure. An activist, through whom the parents had approached TOI, said, “Poor kids admitted in schools have no financial resources to buy costly books and uniforms. These schools tell them that either they buy in house or purchase it directly from shops. The responsibility of RTE implementation is with schools, hence everything should be provided by them.”

RTE activists said if kids were not given books and uniforms then they would be forced to leave school. That is in violation of RTE Act. The first page on Human Resources Development (HRD) ministry web site of RTE mentions, “Free means that no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses that may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education.” RTE activists, the ilk of whom have cropped up in dozens in the last couple of months, said schools ought to make arrangements for these things.

Schools, however, make it clear that the education department has not mentioned anything about uniforms. “We are giving free admissions even though the reimbursement is low and delayed by three years. From nursery to KG we do not get anything at all. On top of that how could we be spending money on uniform and books? The state should provide it just like they are doing for aided and government schools,” said a principal. Another CBSE principal said, “The parents are very much capable of paying Rs 2,000 in a year. They come to drop their kids on costly bikes, some send kids in autorickshaw and even school van. If they can pay for all these things, I am sure necessities like uniform and books can be taken care of.”

An education official said, “These allegations by RTE activists are now bound to increase as the scales tip in favour of schools. Many times, these complaints are used as a bargaining chip against schools. We are all waiting for the new circular by education department which would clarify this admission mess once for all.”

Source: The Times of India

Maharashtra | New Government Resolution changes rule of entry level RTE admissions

Mumbai: The state education department has come out with a new government resolution (GR) for Right to Education (RTE) entry level point on Thursday. According to the new GR, schools will now reserve 25% RTE quota seats in standard I as their entry level point. Thus, pre-primary admissions done this year under the RTE quota will be cancelled. However, these students will be eligible for admission in same school in standard I when turn 6 years of age.

The state education department has cancelled the old GR of January 21 which had asked schools to admit children in both pre-primary and primary sections under the RTE quota. Since this created a lot of confusion in schools, a fresh GR on the entry level point has been uploaded on Thursday on the state government website.

Those schools whose capacity of pre-primary seats is similar to that of standard I and who have filled the 25% quota in pre-primary this year, need not fill the quota in standard I in that particular year when the students whose admissions are cancelled will have to re-admitted.

Only the schools that have more seats in standard I compared to their pre-primary section, will have to fill the remaining quota seats.

The state education department has also instructed the schools across the state to conduct the RTE quota admissions next time onwards from December 15 and complete three rounds before March 10, 2016.

An official from the civic education department said, “The second round of lottery may now happen only in June as most of the parents have gone to their villages for summer vacation. We will first have to confirm the admissions of standard I for students who were allotted schools but were not given admission. Now, the second round of lottery will be only for admissions to standard I.”

Source: dna

Mumbai | Maharashtra government move on RTE quota admission worries parents

Mumbai: Parents whose children have been admitted in the pre-primary section of unaided schools under the Right to Education Act quota are a worried lot. They are worried because principal secretary of school education department Nand Kumar has announced cancellation of all such admissions. Earlier, state education minister Vinod Tawde had said that the government would not reimburse fees of students admitted in pre-primary sections under the 25% RTE quota.

Recently, a few school principals from Navi Mumbai had met Tawde seeking revocation of a government resolution issued in January, which according to their interpretation, stated that they would have to keep aside 25% seats under the RTE quota in pre-primary as well as Standard I.

Raj Aloni, principal of Ramsheth Thakur Public School, said, “On our request, a decision was taken to admit children only in standard I. It is simply not possible to admit children both in pre-primary and primary sections under the quota.”

“No school would now chose the pre-primary section for admission under RTE quota from next year as they won’t be able to get reimbursement from the government. On top of that, children who are admitted in the pre-primary section in future, may not get the guarantee of admission in standard I due to the reservation there. Also, children who were admitted last year will now be in trouble as schools may ask them to pay fees,” Aloni added.

A principal of a CBSE school from Navi Mumbai said, “If the education department cancels RTE admissions of pre-primary section this year, then they should also cancel those of the last year.”

When contacted, Kumar said, “It’s not the schools that will cancel the admissions, but we will cancel them. This year, only standard I admissions under RTE quota will happen. Two batches have been given admission under the quota till now — one pre-primary and the other Standard I. The admissions of the pre-primary batch will be cancelled.”

Vijay Kanojia, state general secretary of Mumbai Pradesh Youth Congress, said, “Parents are going to suffer because of this decision. I have been getting calls from worried parents about it.”

K Narayan, secretary of Anudanit Shiksha Bachchao Samiti, said, “We will approach the court against the government decision of cancelling pre-primary admission.”

Source: dna

Pune | Slow RTE process keeps parents of 13,000 kids on the edge

Pune: With the first round of admissions under the 25% reservation scheme of the Right to Education Act still in deep waters, parents of children whose names are on the waiting list for the second round are restless.

April is almost coming to an end and just 1,900 admissions have been done, so far. Close to 13,000 admissions remain to be confirmed and parents are feeling they will lose out on good schools for their wards.

Sonali Kunjir, a member of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat, who is helping the members of the waste pickers’ union for RTE admissions, said, “Barely a few members of the union who had applied for admissions this year have received an SMS from the education department. Of those who have received the SMS, very few have been able to take admissions. Schools are sending back many parents for varied reasons.”

Source: The Times of India