Five months after the new academic session began, the Delhi government is trying to fill about 6,000 seats — reserved for children from the economically weaker sections (EWS) of society — which are still lying vacant in private schools in Delhi.
There are close to 1,50,000 seats in nursery in the capital. Of these, 25 per cent (37,500 seats) are reserved for children whose parents earn less than Rs 1 lakh per annum. This year, the government introduced a centralised admission system to check corruption.
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The education directorate had asked all schools to verify the number of vacant seats they had by Friday so that a fresh round of admissions could be initiated. After the process is completed, a fresh draw of lots for the vacant seats is expected.
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“We have personally verified the number of vacant seats in 150 top schools, which are in high demand. Random checks on other schools are also being carried out. Once we have a definite figure about the actual number of vacant seats, we will initiate the third phase of admissions,” said Education Director Saumya Gupta.
According to an affidavit filed by the government in September, 11,000 EWS seats were lying vacant. Gupta said this number has since been revised to represent a more accurate picture.
Last year, close to 31,000 seats were filled under the quota, the same affidavit said.
Each year, since the Right to Education Act was implemented in 2010, the sizeable chunk of EWS seats has been going vacant. In many cases, parents are not interested in admitting their children in smaller, lesser-known private schools.
“It is the big, well-known schools where parents want to send their children. Many seats in the smaller schools never get filled,” said Gupta.
According to activists, though, the “faulty” online admission system of the government is the reason behind such a large number of seats going vacant.
“The centralised system did not take into account area specific pin codes and appropriate distance from school
criterion. This is one of the reasons that more seats than last year have gone vacant this year,” said lawyer
Khagesh Jha, who has filed a petition in the matter.
Gupta, however, said that the centralised system was more transparent and did not give schools any power to exercise their discretion.