In an important development on Wednesday that clears the air over the deadlock on admissions under the 25 per cent quota reserved under the Right to Education Act for economically weaker sections, a letter issued by the deputy secretary of state school education and sports department says that all errant schools refusing the quota admissions be given a final deadline by local education officers of September 24 for completing the process.
In case of schools refusing to do so within the deadline, local education officers in Pune and PMC and PCMC officials have been informed that they can then file contempt of court petitions as per the Act and ask for court’s permission to act against the erring institution.
In a ruling on August 14, the Bombay High Court had allowed for 25 per cent quota at dual entry points if there was a difference in intake capacity of primary and pre-primary sections of a school. Later, on August 31, representatives of schools from Pune had met state’s Education Minister Vinod Tawde and education officials complaining that local education officers had misinterpreted the court order and were forcing “over-the-quota” admissions following which the law and judiciary department was asked for an opinion on correct interpretation of court order.
The letter signed by deputy secretary, R B Gunjal, states that as per the final decision of the Bombay High Court on August 14, opinion of the law and judiciary department as well as the state government resolution dated January 21, 2015, it is has been made clear that in those schools where intake capacity at pre-primary level is more than Std 1, 25 per cent of seats should be reserved as per Std 1 capacity and accordingly admissions be given at pre-primary level.
In those schools where number of pre-primary seats is less than Std 1, 25% of intake capacity of pre-primary admissions be given at that level and the remaining seats be filled at Std 1. If after completing the admissions at pre-primary, seats still remain empty under the RTE quota, the same can be opened for admissions at Std I level.
However, the major bone of contention, which was the argument over backlog admissions, has been cleared. The letter goes on to state that those schools who have not given 25 per cent quota admissions in the year 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, will have to “carry forward” the “backlog” admissions in the year 2015-2016 for admissions into Std 1.
Dinkar Temkar, deputy director of education (primary), said the letter was sent to all education officers on Wednesday with instructions that by September 23, all admissions must be completed and a report be submitted to the department.
In Pune Municipal Corporation limits, about 2,221 students who got admissions under the RTE quota are still waiting to begin classes as they were later turned away by schools. Of these, at least 1,700 students are those awaiting Std 1 admissions.
“We have been empowered by this letter and as soon as we received it on Wednesday, we started paying visits to various schools like Vikhe Patil Memorial School, Orchid School, SPM English School and others which were refusing RTE admissions. We have asked them to start the process. Some said they had not got the letter. We provided copies to them and even emailed them. The schools asked us for some time to speak to their managements and take a decision,” said Dhananjay Pardeshi, deputy education officer, PMC.
Meanwhile, school representatives are not happy with the decision. “How can it constitute contempt of court if we have already given the required number of admissions? We had submitted our written objections and since the matter was referred to law and judiciary department, we were hoping that at least we will be given to see the reply given by the department. They are doing a backdated application of legal provisions,” said Vikram Deshmukh, legal consultant for Millennium School.