Nearly 70 per cent seats reserved for disadvantaged students under Right To Education (RTE) Act are still vacant in schools in Pune, Mumbai and Panvel after the second round of admissions was completed last month. Of the 19,513 seats that were available for online admissions in the three cities, only 5,801 have been filled, as per the RTE’s official website.
Under RTE, seats are reserved for economically weaker sections of the society, socially backward groups and physically challenged children. In total, there are nine bifurcations – Open (EWS), SC, ST, VJ, NT, OBC, SBC, minority and disabled in the disadvantaged category in Maharashtra.
Of the 5,801 admissions that have been confirmed by the students, the maximum seats were taken by students belonging to SC category that got 2,555 seats and open category (1055 seats). The least benefited section of the society are the physically challenged students who claimed only seven seats till the end of the second round, shows the data.
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Although the third round is also over, the website data is yet to be updated. “But even if the statistics of third round are taken into account, there will not be much of an increase in the number. With time however, the number also will go up. This was the first time that admissions went online,” said a senior higher education official who did not wish to be named. “Although the online system has made the entire process transparent and easier for the students, it will take some time for the society to actually avail its services. Even there are thousands of cases wherein the students were allotted seats but the students did not take or get admission either due to carelessness on their part or due to high-handedness of schools,” added the official.
Another interesting trend as seen in the admission is that the first round resulted in maximum number of admissions as compared to second round. As many as 4,622 students got admission in the first round where as only 1,179 students secured admission through round two.
“In some cases, parents do not have relevant documents required for admission despite them being eligible. Then there have been many instances where the distance of the school allotted is larger than that shown in the website. Also, there are several cases wherein schools have asked for money despite there being many directives from primary education warning them not to do so. But in 40 per cent of the cases, no school has been allotted to the children. This is a mystery to us, too. Maybe the parents keyed in the wrong number but still not this many parents will do so,” said Maitreyi Shankar, coordinator of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP).
Commissioner of education S Chockalingam said, “To correctly analyse the total number of vacant seats, we will have to first get the figures of how many total seats remained vacant before Rte came into the picture and compared to that how many seats are lying vacant after RTE came into affect in the same class. Secondly, while taking total number of seats eligible to be reserved under RTE, we have taken 25 per cent seats in Class I but this may differ from the number of seats in the entry level class of a school which may be pre primary classes.
Thirdly, there have been many instances wherein the eligible age prescribed by us and that by the school or the board that the school belongs to is different. The fourth point is in many cases, the school allotted was not preferred by the parent as often there is a rush for a so-called few good schools. And lastly, it can also happen that even though more admissions have happened, they have not been updated on the website.