Despite a poor response to the 25 per cent (5,300 seats) reservation policy for economically weaker section (EWS) under the Right to Education Act, where only 19 per cent of the seats reserved in private unaided schools across the state was taken up by the beneficiaries, the state government has proposed nearly four times increase in the total number of seats (which is from 5,300 to 18,300) for the coming academic session starting in June, this year.
In the first year of its implementation in Gujarat during current academic session 2013-14 on pilot basis, mainly in the south and Saurashtra region, total 5,300 seats were reserved under this 25 per cent EWS and disadvantaged group reservation policy roping in eight municipal corporations including Ahmedabad (2,000 seats), Surat (1,000 seats), Vadodara (800 seats), Rajkot (500 seats), Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Junagadh and Gandhinagar (250 seats each under these four corporations).
Only 1,012 seats out of 5,300 got filled. However, from 5,300 seats the Gujarat Education Department has proposed 18,300 seats for the coming academic session. “These 5,300 seats under eight municipal corporations will be retained with an addition of another 13,000 seats. The department has proposed an introduction of 500 seats in 26 districts across the state,” said Principal Secretary (Primary Education) Sangeeta Singh.
In such a situation, for admission, the “first come first serve” rule laid down by the Education Department was applied to the applicants. However, there is also a provision of draw of lots to be conducted in a transparent manner by the school, in case the number of applications is more than seats reserved. This has to be followed with a waiting list duly stamped by the DEO that is to be put on the school notice board.
For the task, municipal commissioners along with district education officers (DEO) and administrative officers (AO) and chairman of municipal school boards are directed to identify and divide these seats to be reserved among private schools across the state. The districts with few takers for this scheme have been directed to make extra efforts to ensure maximum beneficiaries taking up seats in private schools.
As per the rules laid down by the state government, after BPL families, children whose parents’ annual income is Rs 27,000 and Rs 36,000 for rural and urban areas, respectively, will be given first preference under EWS category. This will be followed by children with family annual income of less than Rs 2 lakh.
Similarly, not limiting itself to the EWS category, the state government has made an attempt to mainstream children from a wide section of disadvantaged groups by divided it into eight categories. These include (in order of preference) orphans, child in need of care and protection, children from child care institutes, child labours/migrated children, mentally challenged or cerebral palsy children, children with special needs, HIV patients, SC/ST and OBC.