At least 40 parents of children, who got admission under the economically weaker section (EWS) quota of the Right to Education (RTE) Act at the CBSE-affiliated Delhi Public School (DPS) in Mohammedwadi, have complained to the joint director of primary education about the “differential treatment” being given to their children.
These parents on Thursday approached Dinkar Temkar, joint director of primary education, Maharashtra, and told him that their children had been put in a separate section of Class I, specially created for EWS students. The school has 60 EWS students in Class I, 40 of whom have been put in Class I (A) and the rest in Class I (B). The school does not allow more than 40 students in a class.
School principal Neelam Chakrabarty admitted that a separate section had been created for EWS quota students but claimed it was done for the benefit of the students.
“Actually, the school was not happy with the academic progress they were making and felt they could do better. In a class of 30, where only two or three are RTE students, it is not possible to give them special attention and so, we decided to have a separate division for them, where we can cater to their needs. The decision was taken for their benefit and I think that schools must be allowed to make this choice. There is no discrimination whatsoever,” said Chakrabarty.
“Parents had come to meet me and I assured them that their fear was unfounded. Also, if we feel that this is not working out, we will revert to a mixed class again,” she said.
The parents, however, said their children had been part of mixed classes for the last three years, and this separation was done from April this year.
“When my child got admission here in pre-primary, I was extremely happy as this is one of the best schools in our locality. For two years, our children remained part of a mixed class and we never faced any discrimination. In fact, the school authorities treated us very well. My son’s academic performance was also good. His teacher had told me that he is better than most regular students. Therefore, we fail to understand if the principal now says that our children were lagging behind academically and needed special attention. These children are in this school since pre-primary, so why would they lag behind?” one parent, who requested not to be named, said.
Another parent, also asking not to be named, said they were apprehensive that this separation was just the “beginning of discrimination”.
“Imagine an entire class of only EWS children. How will the other children look at them? When they become a little older and the other students realise the distinction, will they not tease our children and make them feel inferior? A few days ago, we met the principal to voice our concerns and she told us that this was done because our children needed special treatment to cope. But we want to know why is it necessary? We were happy with their progress in a mixed class. She told us to accept the arrangement or withdraw the admission,” said the parent.
Meanwhile, Temkar said he had directed Education Officer Harun Attar to look into the issue. “Under the RTE law, no school can differentiate between a RTE student and a regular fee paying student and such acts are not allowed,” he said.