The shortage in the number of applicants for seats reserved for less privileged children in private schools appears to be an advantage for the institutions to prevent the proper implementation of the Right to Education Act in the city.
The RTE Act makes it mandatory for all private schools to reserve 25 per cent of the seats at the entry class level for underprivileged children and teach them free of cost. There have been no takers for over 75 per cent of the seats reserved across 73 private schools,so far,according to the schools claims.
Rather than publicising the provisions of the Act to find more takers,the Independent Schools Association is threatening the Administration to allow the schools convert the unclaimed seats into the general category. So much so,that it has set February 15 as the deadline for the Administration to decide on the conversion,failing which,the Administration will have to provide reimbursement for each of the vacant seats across 73 private schools.
ISA president,H S Mamik said: It is the Administrations responsibility to find eligible candidates for these seats. In their child mapping exercise,however,they failed to find poor children in a number of areas. We have already put up notices outside the premises explaining the criteria for admission to reserved seats. Even then very few people have turned up.
The Administration has not made it clear as to how long it will take to find more eligible candidates for the reserved seats. We cannot wait for so long,especially when we are flooded with applications from general category candidates. They will have to pay for the vacant seats if they make us wait beyond February 15, Mamik added.
The Administration on the other hand has planned to rope in local NGOs to locate beneficiaries. UT Education Secretary V K Singh said: We cannot allow the schools to convert the seats before finding out the reasons for the shortage in the number of takers for the RTE seats. We are trying to raise awareness among the less privileged people in the city. We would expect the schools also to publicise the provisions. Let us first make some efforts to find out applicants,then we will decide on the conversion of seats.
There are about 3,000 RTE seats reserved across all the private schools in the city. So far,nearly 700 applications have been received. The Administration and ISA are yet to reach consensus over the per-child-expenditure as well. Also,the time of the payment is to be decided. While ISA has sought payment for the entire academic session in April,when the session begins,the UT Education Department has proposed monthly payments.