Tamilnadu | Upload RTE info online, HC tells Tamil Nadu

Chennai: The Madras high court on Tuesday asked the state government make available online within three days details regarding admission of students under the Right to Education Act. Details such as how many seats are available in unaided private schools for children from disadvantaged families, how many admissions have been made under the RTE Act so far and what are the norms to fill the remaining seats will have to be uploaded on the state education department’s website.

The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice T S Sivagnanam also directed the CBSE and Union HRD ministry to submit details about reimbursement of expenditure incurred by the state government in admitting students under RTE Act within four weeks. The court was hearing a petition alleging lack of transparency in RTE admissions and seeking an online single-window system.

Special government pleader (education) G Krishnakumar told the court that in order to spread awareness about the scheme further, the state government has asked all district collectors to issue press releases and advertisements. From now on, district collectors will organize the random selection of students under 25% RTE quota in the presence of education and revenue authorities, he said.

Also, if a school refuses to given application forms to parents, they could collect the forms from the office of chief educational officer or district elementary educational officer or inspector of matriculation schools and submit the filled-in forms in these offices themselves, he said. More importantly, this year application forms could be submitted till June 15, and unfilled seats under the quota would be kept open till November to ensure that the benefit reached all the eligible candidates this year, he said.

As per the RTE Act, every school, including unaided institutions, have to set apart 25% of the available seats for children from poor families. While the beneficiaries need not pay any fee up to Class 10, the state government would pay the schools and get reimbursement from the Centre. As per the scheme, 49,864 students were admitted in schools in 2013-14, involving Rs 25.1 crore as reimbursible fee. In 2014-15, a total of 89,729 students were admitted and fee payable to the schools was Rs 71.9 crore.

On Tuesday, joint secretary in school education department P Alagesan filed a counter-affidavit saying that the Centre had amended rules and denied reimbursement of fee to students admitted in LKG, UKG and Class VI. Noting that a vast majority of students admitted in Tamil Nadu belonged to these categories, he explained how the state did not get any reimbursement for 2013-14 admissions, and is eligible for just Rs 14 lakh for admissions made in 2014-15.

The counter said a total of 16 government orders covering various aspects of the RTE Act had been issued by the Tamil Nadu government since 2010, and added that it would continue to fund education of children from poor families despite the Centre’s reluctance. It said the Centre’s attitude and new amendments would adversely affect children if the expenditure made by the Tamil Nadu government is not reimbursesd.

As for the petitioner A Narayanan’s plea that the government provide free uniform and textbooks for students admitted under the 25% RTE quota, the counter-affidavit said it would take possible steps to get funds from the Centre. It, however, added that the government has been providing free books and uniforms for children admitted in government schools and those run by local bodies. The counter expressed certain difficulties in introducing a single window admission system for RTE admissions, saying it might result in discrimination among RTE beneficiaries.

Source: The Times of India

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