Only one out of five schools eligible to admit students from economically disadvantaged families under the RTE Act are taking in such students, and admission was given to only about 3 lakh students out of approximately 22 lakh seats available under the criterion in 2014-15, says a report on the implementation of Right to Education Act.
According to the report, in 2014-15, roughly 3.46 lakh seats were filled out of approximately 22.9 lakh seats available under RTE (or 15.12 per cent). This is a slight improvement from 3.2 lakh seats filled out of 21.8 lakh (14.66 per cent) in 2013-14.
The second ‘State of the Nation: RTE Section 12(1)(c)’ report has been prepared by the RTE Resource Centre at IIM-Ahmedabad, Central Square Foundation, Accountability Initiative, and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy. The Section concerned mandates 25 per cent reservation for students from economically weaker sections (EWS) in non-minority, private and unaided schools.
Of 2.17 lakh schools across the country eligible to give admission under RTE, only 45,996 schools had taken at least one student under this provision in 2014-15, the report says.
Nationally, Delhi continues to top the list, with 44.61 per cent seats filled under the provision. Delhi is followed by Rajasthan (39.26 per cent), Tamil Nadu (37.75), Chhattisgarh (32.94) and Uttarakhand (31.96). The worst-performing states are Andhra Pradesh (0 per cent), Telangana (0.01), Mizoram (0.21), Uttar Pradesh (0.79) and Odisha (0.97).
Significantly, the report has called for an “urgent reexamination of exemptions provided to minority schools” under the Act. The report says that the exemption accorded to minority schools “allows for creation of a certain loophole which, if left unplugged, could unravel all efforts…”
About hurdles in the way of a smoother implementation of the Act, Ashish Dhawan, founder-chairman, Central Square Foundation, said, “Most states have either unclear rules or guidelines or are not implementing this provision. Awareness is still patchy, especially in rural areas. Once children enter the school system, provision of supporting and child-tracking is almost non-existent.”
Dr Ambrish Dongre, Senior Research Fellow at Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research, and Fellow at Centre for Policy Research, said absence of adequate funds from the Centre could also be a likely cause for this patchy implementation. “Of Rs 1,466.5 crore the states requested for implementation of Section 12(1)(c), only Rs 250 crore was approved,” he said. “Only six states — Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand got Central assistance… (Besides,) ensuring smooth flow of money from the state to the schools is crucial.”
Talking about the role of civil society organisations, one of the lead authors of the report, Prof Ankur Sarin, a faculty member at Public Systems Group, IIM-Ahmedabad, said, “In states like Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Karnataka, civil society has played a critical role in improving the implementation.”
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