Odisha: Youths on RTE mission

In an effort to ensure admission of students under the 25 per cent quota ensured by the Right to Education (RTE) Act in private schools, a group of youngsters has been visiting slums to create awareness about the rule and to help parents admit their wards to various schools ahead of the admission season.

The response to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, which guarantees every child the right to full-time elementary education, be it in private or public schools, has been poor not only in Bhubaneswar but across the state since it came into force in 2010. The Act mandates that a minimum of 25 per cent seats be kept free for children belonging to weaker sections of the society in all private unaided primary schools.

“Odisha is among the worst-performing states in terms of ensuring admissions to children under the RTE Act. Schools have been avoiding the implementation of the Act and have not been admitting underprivileged children under the quota. Lack of awareness among parents is a major reason for which children are deprived of their rights,” said Soumik Ghosal, founder of Desire Foundation.
Fifty volunteers of the foundation, comprising students of engineering colleges of the city, launched project ‘Adhyayan’ last year, as part of which they conducted a survey which revealed that almost 99 per cent parents in the city were unaware of the provisions of the RTE Act.
“Even if a few parents are aware of the act and admit their wards in elite schools, the children fail to cope with the environment and end up dropping out. We worked in a city slum last year and successfully admitted a few students from there to Future Bhubaneswar School. This motivated us to embark on the campaign this year, too,” Ghosal said. The team has covered seven slums in the city involving 600 families and 13 private schools.
“The children we admitted last year are doing fine,” said the principal of Future Bhubaneswar school, Matthew Thomas.

Source: The Times of India