Pune | 17 city schools to face contempt cases

Pune: The state government has decided to file contempt of court against 17 city schools for not providing admissions under the Right to Education (RTE) Act even after Bombay High Court directed them to do so. These schools will now have to explain their stand in HC.

Among these schools are wellknown names like Vikhe Patil Memorial School, two schools run by Shikshan Prasarak Mandali, Gurukul School, etc. Following parents’ complaints, the education department recommended the filing of court cases against concerned schools. The move has now received a green light from the state.

State education minister Vinod Tawde said he met toubled parents and members of the schools’ management. “We will inform the court that a special round of admission will be held for these 600 students and that they will be admitted in two weeks. Schools will be ordered to make extra effort to ensure that these late entrants are able to cope with whatever they have missed out on,” he said.

On the other hand, denying these allegations, schools said while they have taken in students under RTE, the confusion is regarding dual-entry point for admission.

Mrinmayee Bhave, principal of Gurukul School, claimed that like the past three years, this year too, the school has admitted children under RTE. “The education department is referring to the 2012-2013 academic year. Then, neither was there any application nor communication from the state to reserve those seats. Now, they are asking us to admit children in Class I as there were no admissions in playgroup in 2012-2013. However, our Class I batch strength is at the optimum level and includes students, admitted under the RTE, who have naturally progressed.”

Anat Mate, vice-chairman of Shikshan Prasark Mandali Trust, said while the trust’s schools had admitted children under RTE at the playgroup level, “the state is asking for another 25 per cent admissions. If that’s done, then 50 per cent of class strength will comprise RTE students. This will make it difficult for the administration to run schools. The government should focus at one entry point”.

The RTE saga has proven to be long and difficult this year. With six months of the academic year already done, around 600 students, who were allotted seats in the first round of centralised admission process, were not taken in by schools. After a long court case in HC, the schools were asked to admit these children in August. However, a month has passed and parents are still struggling to get their wards admitted to given schools.

Source: Pune Mirror

Mumbai | Schools refuse RTE admissions despite notices

Mumbai: Several students who were refused admissions by city schools under the Right to Education act are still left in a lurch as schools are not willing to comply with those norms despite several notices from the state education department.

The state education department has issued a warning to all the respective schools that their recognition would be cancelled if they do not admit all the students who have been legitimately allotted the school as per the lottery.

Mirror had earlier reported about more than 200 schools that were given notices by the BMC and the state education department for denying admissions to several students citing various excuses like lack of space.

Some of the top schools that have still not admitted students include MET Rishikul, Don Bosco, Vikhroli, St Anthony, Dharavi and Mahindra Academy, Malad. Schools such as Mahindra Academy and MET Rishikul have moved court over the issue with their set of explanations, citing confusion at two entry points – junior KG and Class I.

The Mahindra academy school said that they have already started with the admission procedures following the court order.

When asked about this, the MET Rishikul spokesperson said: “The parents have moved the Child Rights Commission and we have sent a list of explanations for non compliance to the commission. We are waiting for an order after which we will decide whether to admit these students or not.”

One of the parents whose child has been denied admission by MET Rishikul, said: “We have been running from pillar to post so that our children get an admission that has been allotted officially under the RTE. However, authorities have been extremely rude and irresponsible and have outright denied us admissions.”

BB Chavan, deputy director of education, Mumbai region, said: “We have given multiple notices to these schools despite which they have not complied with the norms. If they still do not comply, strict action will be taken against the concerned schools.

Source: Mumbai Mirror

Nagpur | MESTA members press for RTE reimbursements; action promised by weekend

Nagpur: Maharashtra English School Trustees Association (MESTA) members in city met education officials on Tuesday morning to press for long pending payments for admissions given under the Right to Education (RTE) guidelines. It’s been almost three years since schools started admitting students under the RTE quota for free but the government has failed to keep its side of the bargain.

Avantika Lekurwale (Raut), head of MESTA Nagpur’s women’s wing, said, “We have been promised that RTE reimbursements will start coming from this week itself. We submitted a memorandum to the primary education office and had demanded a time frame for implementing our demands.”

Though there are various associations representing teachers, schools etc in state, MESTA has moved into a niche segment, which badly needed a platform. English schools owners banded together under MESTA and after its launch last year the association has managed to carve a space for itself. Free RTE admissions take place mostly in English schools and hence MESTA members are the ones suffering the most due to non-payment of bills. Under guidance of Nana Satpute, president of MESTA’s Nagpur unit and Lekurwale, the members have been upping the ante on education officials for demanding their dues.

Lekurwale said, “Premchand Raut, who handles RTE related affairs at the education department, was also present during the meeting and he said that bills of around 65 schools have been checked. It is likely that these city schools will get RTE reimbursement by this weekend. For rural schools, the wait might be just a bit longer but still it shall happen within two weeks.”

Source: The Times of India

Mumbai | Notices to 200 schools for not admitting poor kids

Mumbai: More than 200 private schools, including prominent ones such as MET Rishikul in Bandra, Mahindra Academy in Malad, Don Bosco in Bhandup, Jankidevi in Andheri, and St Anthony in Sion, have been issued final notices by the State Education Department and the BMC for not admitting students under the Right to Education Act (RTE) quota.

The parents have complained that the schools are refusing admissions despite the Education Department issuing admission allotment letters. The RTE quota aims at providing education to the children from economically weaker sections, and the government reimburses schools for admitting students under the quota.

Education Inspector (South Zone) BB Chavan said, “We have issued notices to schools which have not complied with the norms of admission under the RTE Act. These schools were given warnings despite which they have denied admission to several students. The final letters were issued after schools failed to respond till the September 24 deadline.”

A BMC official cited a Bombay High court order issued in August, and said that the schools refusing admissions under the RTE Act will be considered as contempt of court.

All private unaided schools have to set aside 25% seats for the RTE quota, and there have been allegations that some schools have been charging such students extra for books, uniforms, and extra-curricular activities.

A parent of a student who was allegedly denied admission by MET Rishikul despite getting an allotment letter said, “The school authorities told us to ‘get lost’ when we showed them the allotment letter issued by the Education Department. The school has shown extremely discriminatory behaviour since April, when the lottery results were declared. They talk to us rudely because we are poor.”

An official from MET Rishikul said that the school has moved the court regarding the RTE quotas.

“We have given explanations for non-compliance of the RTE Act. There are obvious practical difficulties that we are facing, because of which we couldn’t comply with the Act,” the official said.

Parents said that the two most common reasons for denying admissions under the RTE quota are lack of space to accommodate more students, and distance from the applicant’s residence to school.

RTE activist Sudhir Paranjpe said he has received at least 60 complaints from parents whose children have been refused admissions. “We have forwarded these complaints to the Child Rights Protection Commission. Such schools’ registration should be cancelled,” he said.

The schools’ version

Schools have termed the latest notices as “pressure tactics” by the state government, and said that their reasons for not admitting students are “genuine”.

A top official from Mahindra Academy, Malad said that there was plenty of confusion about the entry points for admissions under the RTE quota, and his school was told to accommodate students in both Junior KG and Class 1.

“We don’t have the space and the infrastructure to take such additional burden. Besides, several students who have received allotment letters are not from low income families and the procedure for admission should be stricter,” the official said.

Source: Mumbai Mirror

Mumbai | Schools that didn’t fill 25% RTE quota seats face de-recognition

Mumbai: On the last day of admission under the Right To Education (RTE) Act, the Education department was all set to take action against those schools that failed to fill 25 per cent seats reserved for the underprivileged students. The government had recently sent a letter to the department in this regard, proposing even de-recognition of the defaulting schools.

Meanwhile, most parents whose kids were denied admission under the quota, are still awaiting justice. Many of them had lodged complaint with the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights against various city schools.

The Directorate of Primary Education recently sent a letter to all the deputy directors of the Education department in the state to take action against defaulting schools. The Education officials can also file contempt of court petition against these schools.

BB Chavan, in-charge of deputy directors of school education, said, “Thursday was the last day for schools to admit children under the RTE quota. The government has asked us to make a proposal of de-recognising the schools that failed to follow the High Court order of filling 25 per cent quota seats in pre-primary and primary sections.”

BMC education officer Shambhavi Jogi said, “We have already sent letters to five such schools, warning them of action.”

Source: dna

Pune | RTE admissions: ‘Will act against 46 erring schools after September 24, says Purshuttom Bhapkar

Pune: The school education department is now gearing up to act tough against schools refusing 25 per cent quota admissions under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Having received a list of 46 erring schools from major cities, Maharashtra Education Commissioner Purshuttom Bhapkar said deputy directors had been instructed to act against the schools after September 24, if the situation persisted.

“I had asked the deputy directors of primary education to prepare a report, along with a list of schools that refused RTE quota admissions. As of now, I have a list of 46 schools. The letter that we received from the ministry clearly states that a maximum deadline of September 24 be given to the schools to finish all admissions allotted under round I. If not, we will move for relevant action,” said Bhapkar.

Meanwhile, Mumbai tops the list of cities, with 23 schools on radar for not giving admissions, followed by 17 schools in Pune. “I am yet to get the list for some cities where the process of data collection from local education officers is still under way. I have asked for it by the stipulated time,” said Bhapkar.

He added that these schools had been given multiple chances to finish the admission process but they did not seem to be taking the state government orders seriously. Asked if due to the current holiday season, owing to several festivals, would schools be given an extension, education officials replied in the negative.

While a recent letter issued by the state education department stated that contempt of court notices be filed against schools that refused to give RTE quota admissions, the state education department had decided to move for de-recognition of these schools as well.

Source: The Indian Express

Mumbai | RTE admissions: Fate of 1,400 kids hangs on round two

Mumbai: It has been four months since admissions under the Right to Education (RTE) quota were put on the back burner, leaving the fate of over 1,400 children hanging in the balance. With the number of underprivileged students missing out on schooling opportunities escalating with each passing year, it looks like the RTE Act has failed to deliver.

According to the figures made public by the BMC in the first week of April, seats were allotted to 2,593 of the 4,000 students who applied during the first round of admission under the RTE. Their application forms were divided between 190 pre-primary schools and 255 primary schools (across various boards).

The remaining 1,407 applicants were assured seats in the second round. But with no word from the education department for commencing the second round of admissions till date, several parents have secured admissions for their children in either civic schools or in general quota.

The lacunae persists despite education department warning schools of charging them with contempt of court if they refused admissions to children under the RTE quota and conclude the process by September 24.

Left in the lurch
At a time when kids his age are busy attending school, four-year-old Maruf Sirsodia spends his time at home — thinking when will he go to school. “My husband is a contract labourer and we can’t afford to pay the fee, which is why we were hoping to get our son admitted to a school under the free quota.

My neighbours could afford to pay, so they didn’t wait for the second round of admissions and got their children admitted to nearby schools. My son just sits at home,” said Maruf’s mother Shamim Bano.

Residents of Andheri, the Sirsodias were some of many parents who were assured admission during the second round by the education department. But they have not received any confirmation till date. Similarly, three-and-half year-old Faizan Sheikh keeps questioning his parents about going to school so that he can learn to read and write.

“We were promised admission for Faizan, for which we ran from pillar to post in the past three months. However, nothing has happened till date. I have no option but to keep him at home and once again try next year under the RTE quota,” said Faizan’s mother Shahina, a housewife.

Like the Sirsodias, she too received an SMS in April stating that her son’s form was rejected for the first round of admission and till date is clueless why the government has not done anything about it other than giving hollow assurances.

The other side
Commenting on the issue, Nand Kumar, principal secretary of education (state), said, “The HC has clearly stated that admissions of those students, who were rejected by schools, must be concluded at the earliest.
Accordingly, we have given schools time till September 24 to finish this process, or else we will issue contempt of court notices against them.”
However, when questioned, Kumar refused to comment or give a tentative dateline for fresh admissions. Instead, he said the dept’s priority was to ensure seats for children who had made it through the first round.

Source: Mid-day

Pune | RTE admissions: Errant Pune schools get Sept 24 deadline, and a warning of contempt case

Pune: In an important development on Wednesday that clears the air over the deadlock on admissions under the 25 per cent quota reserved under the Right to Education Act for economically weaker sections, a letter issued by the deputy secretary of state school education and sports department says that all errant schools refusing the quota admissions be given a final deadline by local education officers of September 24 for completing the process.

In case of schools refusing to do so within the deadline, local education officers in Pune and PMC and PCMC officials have been informed that they can then file contempt of court petitions as per the Act and ask for court’s permission to act against the erring institution.

In a ruling on August 14, the Bombay High Court had allowed for 25 per cent quota at dual entry points if there was a difference in intake capacity of primary and pre-primary sections of a school. Later, on August 31, representatives of schools from Pune had met state’s Education Minister Vinod Tawde and education officials complaining that local education officers had misinterpreted the court order and were forcing “over-the-quota” admissions following which the law and judiciary department was asked for an opinion on correct interpretation of court order.

The letter signed by deputy secretary, R B Gunjal, states that as per the final decision of the Bombay High Court on August 14, opinion of the law and judiciary department as well as the state government resolution dated January 21, 2015, it is has been made clear that in those schools where intake capacity at pre-primary level is more than Std 1, 25 per cent of seats should be reserved as per Std 1 capacity and accordingly admissions be given at pre-primary level.

In those schools where number of pre-primary seats is less than Std 1, 25% of intake capacity of pre-primary admissions be given at that level and the remaining seats be filled at Std 1. If after completing the admissions at pre-primary, seats still remain empty under the RTE quota, the same can be opened for admissions at Std I level.

However, the major bone of contention, which was the argument over backlog admissions, has been cleared. The letter goes on to state that those schools who have not given 25 per cent quota admissions in the year 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, will have to “carry forward” the “backlog” admissions in the year 2015-2016 for admissions into Std 1.

Dinkar Temkar, deputy director of education (primary), said the letter was sent to all education officers on Wednesday with instructions that by September 23, all admissions must be completed and a report be submitted to the department.

In Pune Municipal Corporation limits, about 2,221 students who got admissions under the RTE quota are still waiting to begin classes as they were later turned away by schools. Of these, at least 1,700 students are those awaiting Std 1 admissions.

“We have been empowered by this letter and as soon as we received it on Wednesday, we started paying visits to various schools like Vikhe Patil Memorial School, Orchid School, SPM English School and others which were refusing RTE admissions. We have asked them to start the process. Some said they had not got the letter. We provided copies to them and even emailed them. The schools asked us for some time to speak to their managements and take a decision,” said Dhananjay Pardeshi, deputy education officer, PMC.

Meanwhile, school representatives are not happy with the decision. “How can it constitute contempt of court if we have already given the required number of admissions? We had submitted our written objections and since the matter was referred to law and judiciary department, we were hoping that at least we will be given to see the reply given by the department. They are doing a backdated application of legal provisions,” said Vikram Deshmukh, legal consultant for Millennium School.

Source: The Indian Express

Nagpur | Rs3.5 crore in RTE money lying idle in Nagpur edu dept account

Nagpur: Around Rs3.5 crore meant for reimbursing Right to Education (RTE) bills of schools in Nagpur is lying idle in the education department’s account since April even though schools in city are running from pillar to post since 2012 with pending bills. TOI has learnt that the money has been credited to the Nagpur account but none of it has been paid to schools citing ‘pending paperwork’. An education official involved with RTE work said, “Bills are being scrutinized along with checks done on various other parameters. Schools will receive payments very soon, probably by September end.”

This information has not gone down well with schools which have been waiting for years and yet not seen a single penny. A senior academician said, “We have been submitting bills on time and in various formats that they ask for. Many of us thought that the problem is with the state government which has not been releasing money to the local education office. Here however things are completely different and I fail to understand why they don’t release the payments.” The RTE payments are to be directly credited into the school’s account by the education department after scrutiny of bills are complete.

TOI had reported earlier that schools will be paid for academic session 2012-13 and 2013-14. But so far only 66% for each year has been approved so far by the state government. The RTE bill payment delay has tested the patience of school owners long enough and that’s why a huge morcha has been planned in October at chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s official residence in Nagpur. Maharashtra English School Trustees Association (MESTA) recently announced its decision to take a 10,000-strong crowd to CM’s residence for RTE and other issues.

It is likely that this announcement by MESTA may work as a catalyst for RTE payment release. An education official, who’s not directly handling RTE payments but is aware of developments on that front, said, “CM would definitely be unhappy if school owners throng his place for RTE payments. Now considering that there’s already Rs3.5 crore lying in our RTE account, CM may just ask that reimbursements start as soon as possible.”

While the ‘catalyst theory’ is likely, the MESTA morcha won’t stop because of payments being released as the association has various issues on their agenda.

Source: The Times of India

Pune | RTE Quota Admissions on hold: When will we go to school, kids ask parents

Pune: Ask six-year-old Diyaa Kalshetty why she is not going to school these days and she blankly stares into space. A few moments later, she shyly responds, “They did not give me admission in the school. I do not know why. My friends go there. May be my parents don’t have money.” Kalshetty is one of the hundreds of children who have been denied their basic right to education, thanks to the ongoing deadlock between school managements, government officials and parents over the 25 per cent RTE quota admissions.

Like her, Sairaj Anil Sanas too has not got admission in any school. His mother Poonam is trying to home school him until the matter is resolved. “He keeps telling me, I am supposed study in a school and why am I trying to be his teacher?” she says.

Ask Sairaj about his school, he sounds a bit miffed at his parents for not putting him in a big school. “My friend goes to a school that has a big glass building. I was also shown a big school where I was supposed to go but now my parents are not sending me there. My mom is my teacher but she does not teach me much. She does not know how to teach the way my school teacher does,” he says.

It has been nearly four months since the new academic year began. Parents say that allotment letters were sent to them in April and they were promised that their children would now study at ‘posh’ schools.

“Initially, they said admissions will be done by April 15. My child was going to a private school and I told them that I will not renew admission for next year. However, after April 15, the deadline for admissions just kept extending and my child is still at home. Out of desperation, I even went to other schools but they said seats are full,” said Ramesh Navnath Kamble, a private car driver.

To ensure his daughter Tanvi does not forget all that she has learnt so far, he has enrolled her in private tuition for Rs 300 per month. However, her tuition teacher complains that she is a distracted child.

“My daughter was good academically. But since it has been six months after the school closed down in April, she seems to have lost interest in studies. The tuition teacher says not only has she forgotten most of the things, she also does not sit down in one place. The discipline of being in a classroom, schedule of study is missing and I am afraid for her future now,” he says.

Tanvi says she misses the playground in her school and her tiffin breaks with friends.

“At home, I watch cartoon on TV and mostly play outside. I do not like to study at home. It’s not as much fun as school where we all get to study together. This year, I did not get any new bag or tiffin as I am not going to school,” she complains.

Ask parents why they are not considering the option of admitting their wards in alternate schools to ensure a year is not wasted, they say they have no choice. “My son used to go to a private school where admission process starts in February. I had blocked the admission but as I got RTE allotment in April, I decided not to pay fee. Naturally, they were not going to keep a seat vacant for me till September. I later thought of trying at municipal schools, but the ones that had English were few and those didn’t even have enough faculty for existing students. After that I thought I will rather home school my child this year and put him in a good school next year,” says Poonam.

Parents of six-year-old Kartik Dandekar, who were until last month hoping to get an RTE admission, finally managed to put him back in his previous school after pleading with the school management.

“My son would keep crying and begging us to put him in a school. His friends would tease him as he watched them go to school. Nearly every day he would come charging at his mother. We realised that it was taking a toll on him and we begged his school to take him back and give us some time to pay his fees. Now, they have told us to pay his fees within 10 days or leave,” says Balu Dandekar, who worked as an office boy but recently lost his job.

Source: The Indian Express