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Education Dept takes U-turn on neighbourhood norms

UT Education Department has now issued a public notice contradicting its earlier directions.

Written by Ritika Jha | Chandigarh | Published: March 22, 2012 3:12 am

Issues public notice saying 1-km radius for admission under RTE Act has not been extended

Amid confusion on the neighbourhood norms among parents for admission of underprivileged children to private schools,the UT Education Department has now issued a public notice contradicting its earlier directions. In view of the shortage in number of applicants within a 1-km radius of most private schools – as suggested in the Right to Education (RTE) Act – and non-availability of private schools within a 1-km radius of some colonies,the Department had two months ago directed schools to admit children from all across the city.

On the contrary,in its public notice issued today,the Department has mentioned,“It is for the information of the general public that the existing area limit of 1 km for admission under RTE Act has not been extended. Before applying for admission,it should be kept in mind that the applicant should be a ward of bonafide residents of Chandigarh (within 1 km of the concerned school).”

Justifying the “U-turn”,DPI (Schools) Sandeep Hans today said,“Now that we have re-advertised the reserved seats which are lying vacant,we felt that extending the neighbourhood will aggravate the situation. Most parents would ask for admission in the sought-after schools. This would lead to a huge gap in demand and supply.”

Making a course correction,Hans further said,“We may extend the prescribed area in case there are a large number of requests from parents. We did not extend the limit while re-advertising the seats since in the last two months,we did not receive any such requests.”

The RTE Act model rules framed by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) also state that “A neighbourhood school (for class I to V) means an institution that exists within 1 km. In case there is no school within the prescribed distance,the state government will make arrangements for free transportation and residential facilities.” It is pertinent to note that the entry class in most private schools of the city is either nursery,pre-nursery,UKG or LKG (Below Class I).

The Department has mentioned in its notice that in case there is no private school within the prescribed area limit of 1 km,parents keen to get their wards admitted in some specific private school can contact the District Education authorities. But there is no clarity on the provisions.

When contacted,DPI (Schools) Sandeep Hans,said,“If certain parents seek admission in specific schools due to non-availability of schools in their neighbourhood,we will see how they can be helped. The procedure will vary from case to case.”

The other conditions defining eligibility of a candidate to get admission in an entry class in private schools include the age criteria specified by each of the schools and annual family income scaled below Rs 1.5 lakh. The RTE Act makes it mandatory for all private schools to reserve 25 per cent seats at the entry class for underprivileged children and teach them free.

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