Even after six years of implementation of the right to education (RTE) Act, children from economically weaker section are still struggling to find their seats in schools.
RTE Section 12(1)(c) mandates private unaided schools (except minority and residential schools) to keep 25 percent of the seats (at entry level) reserved for children belonging to economically weaker sections. This was aimed to increase educational opportunities and to create inclusive schooling system.
The provision has the potential to impact the lives of 1.6 crore children across the country. In the last six years, there have been several roadblocks and resistance from private schools in its implementations. The progress in implementing the 25 percent mandate has undoubtedly been slow. According to data from District Information System for Education (DISE), the state fill rate – share of available seats filled by the mandate – has increased from 14.66 percent in 2013-14 to 15.12 percent in 2014-15 (the most recent year for which the DISE data is available).
The report ‘State of the Nation: RTE Section 12 (1) (c)’ highlights the status of implementation of the provision. The report, released in Delhi on Thursday, is a collaborative effort of the RTE resource centre at IIM Ahmedabad, Central Square Foundation, Accountability Initiative (Centre for policy research) and Vidhi Centre for legal Policy.
Based on DISE data the report shows that states amongst themselves have large variation in their seat fill rate, from zero percent in Andhra Pradesh to 44.61 percent in Delhi.
It shows the number of schools participating – schools admitting at least one student under the mandate – has increased from 44,158 in 2013-14 to 44,996 in 2014-15.
While the union minister of human resource development in Lok Sabha said that “27 states and union territories have issued notification in their state rules regarding admission of children belonging to weaker section. States have reported a total of 17.35 lakh children admitted in private schools in the academic year 2014-15.”
An RTI reply highlights the ground reality. Out of 34 states and union territories, 18 shows zero schools implementing the provision. These include – Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala, West Bengal and Punjab.
Just over 30 percent private schools across the country are opening doors for children from weaker section. While Delhi and Chandigarh reported 100 percent school participation. Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh fared poorly with six percent and 0.02 percent schools participating.
In 2014-15, little over 3.4 lakh seats were filled out of approximately 22.9 lakh seats available under the provision. The seat fill rate stand at 15.12 percent. This is slightly better than the previous year’s 3.2 lakh seats filled. States which have a better seat fill rate includes Delhi (44.61 percent), Rajasthan (39.26 percent), Chhattisgarh (32.94 percent) and Uttarakhand (31.96 percent).
The worst-performing states which have filled less than one percent are Andhra Pradesh (0 percent), Telangana (0.01 percent), Mizoram (0.21 percent), Uttar Pradesh (0.79 percent) and Odisha (0.97 percent).
Arghya Sengupta, research director at Vidhi Centre for legal policy, says quality education is hared obligation between private and government schools. He says the courts have been progressive in the judicial enforcement of this right. “Over 100 cases have been filed on different matters related to the RTE. These have been filed by public interest groups across different high courts. We have to see whether we can come up with a coordinated legal strategy to ensure quality education.”
Source : Governance now