The Directorate of Education (DoE) may have taken out a circular cautioning schools against the menace of fake admissions, but private schools deny they were involved in running the racket. Instead, schools say the government’s inability to evolve a clear mechanism for checking fake documents, till as late as last month, has resulted in this mess.
The Department of Education had issued a circular just last month asking schools to verify all certificates, like income and caste certificates, on the website of the Delhi government.
“Till last month, schools had no way of verifying if a document was fake or real. We took the document at face value, if it had the SDM’s stamp on it. It’s teachers who do all the paperwork related to admissions. They are not experts. How can they be expected to know real documents from fake ones, when all have the requisite stamps?” asks Manju Rajput, Principal of Raghuvir Singh Junior Modern School — one of the schools whose name has appeared in the case.
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“If someone has an income certificate, the school is bound to give him/her admission according to the law. The RTE also states that we can’t refuse admissions to any student. Even if one suspects that someone may not belong to the EWS category, one cannot turn them away,” M I Hussain, Principal of DPS Mathura Road, said.
Police unearthed more than 300 fake nursery admissions through the EWS quota in top Delhi schools. According to Delhi Police, fake admissions were detected in Delhi Public School (Rohini, Vasant Kunj, RK Puram and Mathura Road), Modern School (Humayun Road), Lancer’s Convent, Ryan International School, Montfort School (Ashok Vihar), G D Goenka (Rohini), Vikas Bharti (Rohini), Bal Bharati School (Pitampura) and Heritage School (Rohini).
The DoE also took out a circular cautioning against fake admissions after the racket was revealed. “One of the district magistrates of the revenue department, has brought to the notice of this directorate that a few admissions under EWS category in various schools of Delhi have been done on the basis of forged income certificates submitted by the respective parents. It has also been informed that due diligence is not being exercised and verification of income certificates and caste certificates is not being done by the principals/managements of the schools. As a result, ineligible people are getting undue benefits,” the circular read.
“The DoE has taken the said irregularities seriously. All principals/managements of private unaided recognised schools of Delhi are directed to be cautious in this regard and exercise due diligence as well as carry out necessary verification before admissions,” the circular added.
Principals also expressed helplessness over their inability do anything even if they suspect case of a fake certificate. “ Challenging the validity of certificates is equivalent to challenging the authority of the SDM’s office. It is neither the school’s role nor in its authority to do that. So even if a child is coming to school in a costly car and has an expensive phone, the school cannot question his admission if he has submitted the requisite document,” Hussain added.
The school principal can write to the SDM’s office for enquiring against a particular school, and the SDM’s office may initiate an inquiry in the case.
“Most schools where fake admissions have been detected are those where there is no slum area within a kilometre’s vicinity. A particular provision in the Right to Education Act 2009 that made the 25 per cent quota for equally weaker sections and disadvantaged groups (EWS/DG) compulsory is being exploited in this case. So,where the number of applicants are lesser than or almost equivalent to the number of seats, almost everyone gets in. This is true for schools like Bal Bharti Pitampura, where all 75 applicants who applied were selected for 80 seats, and Lancers Convent, where all 85 students staying within the kilometre got through. If there are few applicants, there may not even be a draw and admission is practically assured; even if there is a draw, your chances are better,” said Khagesh Jha, lawyer and activist.