Maharashtra | State’s lethargy over RTE process keeps more than 14k out of school

Pune: As many as 14,300 students in the state have been deprived of school education because the government machinery did not effectively implement the 25% reservation scheme under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

Another 9,600 students have not been admitted in schools although they were allotted seats in the first round of admission.

During a hearing on Wednesday, the Bombay high court directed the state government to resume pre-primary and class I admissions of students who have applied under the reservation scheme.

Reacting to the high court directive, the state education department has issued a circular to all schools in the state to complete the first round of admissions by July 21

On Thursday, the applicants started receiving SMS notifications regarding confirmation of admission before July 21.

Dinkar Temkar, deputy director of primary education said, “We will be completing the first round of admission process by July 21. The second round of admissions will be processed immediately. All parents have been sent SMSs confirming their ward’s admission in the school allotted to them in the first round.”

While hearing a clutch of RTE-related cases including a public interest litigation filed by Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), a wastepickers’ collective in Pune, the high court said the state government must resume the RTE admission process in the state and complete it at the earliest.

The counsel for KKPKP, senior advocate Mihir Desai, submitted a list of 3,193 students who had received at least one allotment under the online RTE process in Pune but who were not admitted in any school due to resistance from schools and failure of the government machinery to take any action against them.

The admissions of 9,697 children across the state have not been confirmed despite seat allotments through the online admission process in the first round, the state education department admitted.

“Schools’ resistance to RTE admissions is nothing new. But this year the admission process has been especially chaotic because of the state government’s flip-flop while issuing directions contrary to the RTE Act, that too half-way through the admission process,” Sonali Kunjir, joint secretary, KKPKP said.

Mukund Kirdat, spokesperson for the Aam Aadmi Party in Pune, said “Many schools are misinforming parents about the court’s hearings and are either denying admissions under RTE altogether or asking parents to come back only after the court’s final order. Some schools have even unofficially started to advise parents to take admissions in the general quota by paying fees. It is a clear case of contempt of court.”

The government issued a notice on April 30 cancelling admissions to pre-schools allotted in the first round of admissions under RTE. On May 7, the high court stayed this April 30 notice by the state government. Yet, the government machinery and local bodies have taken very little action since then.

The directorate of primary education finally issued a notice on July 10 telling all authorities concerned to complete the RTE admissions process in the state.

RTE activists Harshad Barde said, “The government has willfully delayed the admission process for more than two months after the court’s order on May 7. The education department must declare and give wide publicity to the resumption of the admission process. Parents must be given the opportunity to block / reserve such allotments with local authorities where schools are refusing admission. Thereafter, further rounds of admissions must be conducted.”

The next hearing at the Bombay high Court will be held on July 22.

Source: The Times of India

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