Bengaluru: Now that’s a bitter irony. While one of the purposes of the RTE Act is to save poor parents from paying private schools through the nose, someone else is fast emptying their wallets.
Taking advantage of the online RTE application system launched by the government this year, internet cafes are making a fast buck from those wanting to submit the application. They are allegedly charging anywhere between Rs 200 and Rs 300 for submitting application forms on the education department’s website.
Aspirants of RTE quota seats mostly come from poor families, with little knowledge of computer or an internet connection at home, and that’s where they are being exploited.
Prakash, an autorickshaw driver, along with his friend tried several times to submit the RTE application online. But when they failed, he went to a browsing centre. “The centre charged Rs 300 to submit the application online. This isn’t fair; they charge Rs 30 to Rs 50 from those who know to operate the computer,” said Prakash.
Lokesh Gowda, a hotel employee from Halasuru, said that apart from charging Rs 300 for submitting the application, internet cafes are cheating parents by charging Rs 100 to scan photos. Lokesh wants the education department to set up temporary computer centres to facilitate submission of forms.
A group of irked parents claimed the government introduced the online system more to aid private schools than parents, as many of them are struggling to upload their applications, with some even opting to drop out.
Nagasimha G Rao, convenor, RTE Task Force, said, “We are getting dozens of complaints from parents about browsing centres overcharging them. The education department should help these parents. They launched the online system without thinking of these consequences.”
The process of submitting RTE applications online started on January 18 and will go on till February 19. While students can submit the applications directly at the schools also, not many institutions are welcoming them. Intimidated by this, many parents are turning to internet cafes, where they are being fleeced.
DIRECTION TO SCHOOLS
We have directed schools to accept applications from parents directly and issue acknowledgements immediately. They have been told to upload the applications within three days from the date of receiving them. Browsing centres can charge a maximum of Rs 50 per candidate
Mohammed Mohsin | commissioner for department of public instruction