Following a poor response for admissions to the 25 per cent of seats reserved for economically backward students under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the district administration has decided to once again open online applications in a bid to fill more seats in the second round of admissions. The Indian Express had reported on September 3 that as compared to 1.20 lakh applications last year, the number of applications this year was considerably less at 77,000. The number of RTE admissions across the state has also taken a hit.
In Pune district, of the 17,000-odd seats available in 781 schools, only 8,222 have been filled. In over 200 schools, not a single RTE admission has been reported. Taking into account the poor performance, the district education department has opened the online admission forms from October 8 for a period of seven days. “Those parents who were unable to fill the forms in the previous round can do so in this round. We are going to display the area-wise schools and vacancies there, which parents can check. Parents who had filled forms in previous rounds but could not get admissions for their wards for whatever reasons can refill the preference form of schools, depending on available seats and distance. Also, those who were alloted schools for their wards but did not take admissions can also refill preference form. The only forms which cannot be altered are of those students who took part in previous round, were allotted seats and confirmed admissions,” said Mushtaq Shaikh, the district’s primary education officer.
Confirming that the decision has been taken to ensure more RTE admissions, he said that the situation was more grim in rural areas where very few applications had come in as compared to available seats. In city areas of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, he said, the number of applications received was more than the number of available seats. “It is a huge loss to the schools and even students and parents if these seats are not filled because as per Act, the schools will have to keep them vacant. Hence, we are hoping to fill as many seats as possible in the second round,” said Shaikh.
Education activists, who have been petitioning the authorities for a second round of admissions, welcomed the decision but said it had come late. “We wrote to the authorities about two months ago asking for a second round of admissions. The negligence of the authorities is leading to academic loss for students. The authorities should immediately issue advertisements and activate local self-governance bodies to establish help centres to ensure parents are able to fill online forms,” said Mukund Kirdat, education activist and member of AAP.