Pune | Leave now, Mundhwa school tells RTE kids

Pune: After gaining minority cert, Orbis school shows quota students the door; govt says it will pay fees

Yet another minority unaided school from the city has come under scanner of the school education department as chaos ensues over admissions for students under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

The Orbis School in Mundhwa, which received minority status this year, has asked parents of students admitted under RTE into the 25 per cent reserved quota seats to pay fees or leave the school. A total of 25 students study in the pre-primary section of this Keshav Nagar school, admitted under the quota to facilitate education of children from backward socio-economic backgrounds. These students joined the school over the last two years, while it was still a non-minority institution. The minority status certificate came earlier this year, after which the school has shown the door to the students admitted under RTE.

Worried parents recently approached the education officer at the Zilla Parishad (ZP), Mushtaq Shaikh, over the confusion, who wrote a letter to the school forbidding it from taking such action. On Monday, however, at a meeting arranged with all the stakeholders in this matter at the ZP, the school raised certain questions about why it should not do so by law.

When Mirror tried to reach Orbis school authorities for comment, they were unavailable.

One of the affected parents, whose son studies in the play-group in Orbis, told Mirror, “When our child was admitted the school came under the purview of RTE. But this sudden change has put us in a difficult position. The government is confidently stating that the school will have to continue with these students even if they have got a minority status, because their admissions were done before the development. But the school is asking them to show such a provision in the law. In the middle, we remain confused.” Another such parent said, “School admissions are no cake-walk anymore. We got admission to this school a year ago and heaved a sigh of relief. But this year’s RTE admission process has already begun, with just a day left for the deadline. If our child is asked to leave this school, where will she go?”

Shaikh told Mirror, “The school did not have minority status when these admissions were done. Now that they have it, they will not be included in the new RTE admission process, but as per law, they have to continue with these admissions. They will be reimbursed for the fees of these students.”

Recently, two other schools from the city were caught in a similar situation – namely, Vidya Bhavan School and S V Union School. The principal of the former, Fr Godvyn Saldanha, told Mirror, “We have always been a minority school. But when these admissions under RTE were mandated, we had to give admission as per the state government order, as the matter was under litigation in the Supreme Court. It was only later that minority unaided schools were exempted from the clause. We are even not asking students to leave. However, thanks to the government’s unclear statements, we just asked parents to pay the fees. If the government reimburses the amount, it will be given back to the parents. This delay in making decisions has led to the government misleading the public and schools.”

Arekar, principal of the S V Union Primary School, said, “We were deemed a linguistic minority after the RTE admission mandate was passed, and it is no longer applicable to us. But while there are no new admissions now, what about the fees of those admitted before? The government needs to provide some clarifications.”

Source: Pune Mirror

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