Chaos seems to be the norm in the case of admission to 25 per cent seats reserved under Right To Education (RTE) Act, 2009, with the High Court order from Aurangabad Bench that says that if the government does not give reimbursement, pre-primary schools can admit students as per the normal procedure.
The catch is that the government does not give reimbursement to pre-primary at present and in Pune more than 50 per cent of the schools that come under RTE’s reservation clause have pre-primary as the starting level.
“We will go by the order. We are not exempt from RTE. The order says if the government sends us a list of students and deposits money for the kids, we will give them admission. It is an HC order and we will follow it,” said Nandini Charles, Principal, Vikhe Patil Memorial School.
The HC order was issued on September 4, 2013, and can have wide ramifications in a city like Pune. Currently, schools that have pre-primary are implementing the 25 per cent RTE criteria — thanks to the directive by the education department to start implementing it from the starting level. But with this order, it becomes the school’s choice whether to admit students or not as the government will not reimburse pre-primary students. Activists are worried that citing this order, many schools will say no to admission of underprivileged students in their schools this year too.
The HC order states, “The petitioners/schools before us are wholly unaided school. If it gets reimbursement for elementary education, we find no reason to deny the same to pre-school education. We permit the petitioners/schools to admit to said 25 per cent category or such part of it as remains unfilled, the students of weaker section and disadvantaged group from parents who are willing to share the burden… If respondents want the petitioners/schools to admit students accordingly, they shall submit the list of such students to the petitioners with assurance of reimbursement… If the respondents (government) do not submit such list within said period, the petitioners shall be free to fill in those seats from willing parents/guardians as mentioned supra. In default of such students, the petitioners shall be free to fill in said 25 per cent seats by following the normal procedure.”
“The RTE Act clearly states that children aged between six and 14 should be given free education. Now that means Class 1. Hence, the funds come for only Class 1 onwards. Since entry level in majority of the schools in Pune is pre-primary, the schools have to take in students at that level or they will have to open up admissions in Class 1. This will mean that not all students who pass out of senior KG will get admission in Class 1 of the same school. This is not a comfortable situation and hence schools reserve seats at the pre-primary level,” said Mahavir Mane, Director, Primary Education.
“We will talk to the principals who have a problem and sort out the matter,” he added.