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

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