September 14, 2015 2:05:51 am
Ask six-year-old Diyaa Kalshetty why she is not going to school these days and she blankly stares into space. A few moments later, she shyly responds, “They did not give me admission in the school. I do not know why. My friends go there. May be my parents don’t have money.” Kalshetty is one of the hundreds of children who have been denied their basic right to education, thanks to the ongoing deadlock between school managements, government officials and parents over the 25 per cent RTE quota admissions.
Like her, Sairaj Anil Sanas too has not got admission in any school. His mother Poonam is trying to home school him until the matter is resolved. “He keeps telling me, I am supposed study in a school and why am I trying to be his teacher?” she says.
Ask Sairaj about his school, he sounds a bit miffed at his parents for not putting him in a big school. “My friend goes to a school that has a big glass building. I was also shown a big school where I was supposed to go but now my parents are not sending me there. My mom is my teacher but she does not teach me much. She does not know how to teach the way my school teacher does,” he says.
It has been nearly four months since the new academic year began. Parents say that allotment letters were sent to them in April and they were promised that their children would now study at ‘posh’ schools.
“Initially, they said admissions will be done by April 15. My child was going to a private school and I told them that I will not renew admission for next year. However, after April 15, the deadline for admissions just kept extending and my child is still at home. Out of desperation, I even went to other schools but they said seats are full,” said Ramesh Navnath Kamble, a private car driver.
To ensure his daughter Tanvi does not forget all that she has learnt so far, he has enrolled her in private tuitions for Rs 300 per month. However, her tuition teacher complains that she is a distracted child.
“My daughter was good academically. But since it has been six months after the school closed down in April, she seems to have lost interest in studies. The tuition teacher says not only has she forgotten most of the things, she also does not sit down in one place. The discipline of being in a classroom, schedule of study is missing and I am afraid for her future now,” he says.
Tanvi says she misses the playground in her school and her tiffin breaks with friends.
“At home, I watch cartoon on TV and mostly play outside. I do not like to study at home. It’s not as much fun as school where we all get to study together. This year, I did not get any new bag or tiffin as I am not going to school,” she complains.
Ask parents why they are not considering the option of admitting their wards in alternate schools to ensure a year is not wasted, they say they have no choice.
“My son used to go to a private school where admission process starts in February. I had blocked the admission but as I got RTE allotment in April, I decided not to pay fee. Naturally, they were not going to keep a seat vacant for me till September. I later thought of trying at municipal schools, but the ones that had English were few and those didn’t even have enough faculty for existing students. After that I thought I will rather home school my child this year and put him in a good school next year,” says Poonam.
Parents of six-year-old Kartik Dandekar, who were until last month hoping to get an RTE admission, finally managed to put him back in his previous school after pleading with the school management.
“My son would keep crying and begging us to put him in a school. His friends would tease him as he watched them go to school. Nearly every day he would come charging at his mother. We realised that it was taking a toll on him and we begged his school to take him back and give us some time to pay his fees. Now, they have told us to pay his fees within 10 days or leave,” says Balu Dandekar, who worked as an office boy but recently lost his job.
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