The state seems to have finally woken up to the fact that several schools are at present far from filling the 25 per cent seats reserved for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act. The state school education department has decided to set up a grievance redressal mechanism, which will address issues ranging from discrimination and quality of education to admission denials, while ensuring that norms are not flouted by schools. There will be three different committees at the state, district and taluka levels.
According to data obtained from the state education department, one out of every four seats available under the 25 per cent quota has been filled in Mumbai (main city) schools. Data further shows that close to 74 per cent seats set aside for EWS students have not been filled for the academic year 2013-14, till August 2013.
In the grievance redressal mechanism, while complaints can be sent by email, fax or post, the committee will have to register them and send an acknowledgment. “The compliant will then be sent to the individual or institute against whom it has been made and they will have to reply to a showcause notice within 15 days. After the inquiry is conducted under relevant sections of the RTE Act and the order is issued, the latter must be executed within three months. In case of complaints related to denial of admission to a child, a decision has to be taken within 15 days,” read a state notification.
Under the new mechanism, the committee at the taluka level will act against complaints on discrimination against children on the basis of gender, caste, religion and region. It will also have to collate information about school-going children, aged 6-14 years, besides ensuring that teachers are not giving private tuition and that the syllabus is completed within the stipulated period.
Similarly, the committee at the district level will be responsible for ensuring that no child is undergoing capital punishment or mental torture by addressing such complaints. It will also have to ensure the implementation of the 25 per cent quota, besides handling issues like discrimination and teachers’ training.
“The state-level committee will be entrusted with the task of ensuring that there are adequate teachers in schools and that good quality education is being imparted,” the notification further stated.
If parties are unhappy with the decision taken at the taluka level, they can approach the district-level committee, while appeals against orders of the district panel, can be made to the state committee. Further, appeals against state-level panel orders can be made to the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR). All appeals can be made within 30 days and they have to be disposed off within 45 days from the day of receipt of the appeal, the notice said.