Mumbai: Poor Response To RTE Admissions After Rule Changes

Mumbai: Poor Response To RTE Admissions After Rule Changes

With the deadline for claiming the seats reserved for the marginalised groups at private unaided schools in the state around the corner, less than 44,000 parents have so far registered for the centralised admission process.

Musab QaziUpdated: Saturday, April 27, 2024, 11:12 PM IST
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Mumbai: Poor Response To RTE Admissions After Rule Changes | Representative Photo

Mumbai: With the deadline for claiming the seats reserved for the marginalised groups at private unaided schools in the state around the corner, less than 44,000 parents have so far registered for the centralised admission process. This is a far cry from the record 3.64 lakh applications received last year.

The strikingly poor response appears to be a result of the Maharashtra government’s decision to exclude those unaided or self-financed schools that are in the vicinity of government-supported schools from the centralised admissions. Most of the parents logging into the admission portal are unable to select private schools of their choice, with only government and aided schools being made available to them. The disappointed parents, who are eager to secure admission of their children at privately-run schools, have decided to opt out of the process.

Data from the admission website reveals that most of the districts in the state are yet to cross even the 1,000 registration-mark, with some like Sindhudurg and Gadchiroli fewer than 100 aspirants. Pune tops the list with more than 12,000 registrations, followed by Nagpur (6,002) and Thane (3,214). As of Saturday evening, less than 2,000 parents from Mumbai have signed for the admissions.

Under the RTE Act, 25% of the seats at the entry point – Class 1 or pre-primary section – in private unaided schools, except for those run by religious and linguistic minorities, are reserved for children from economically weaker and disadvantaged sections. These students get education free of cost, while the government reimburses their tuition fees to schools. Schools run by religious and linguistic minorities are exempted from this requirement.

However, earlier this year, the government changes the state’s RTE rules to exempt the private unaided schools that are located within one-kilometre radius of government and aided schools from this requirement. Under the revised norms, the parents will first be allotted seats in government and aided schools in their vicinity, with the private unaided schools being made available only if there are no government-supported seats are available.

“The RTE admissions allowed us to admit our children to schools that we otherwise couldn't afford. But this year, the admission website is only showing us vernacular medium aided and government schools, which in any case were available to us. Two years ago my son was admitted to en English-medium school through RTE. Since we are satisfied with the education quality and teachers at the school, we wanted to enroll our daughter at the same place, but it’s no longer available to us. We can’t bear the expense of this school and are now looking for other options,” said Heena Khan, a mother from Kalyan.

Dheeraj Kamble, an activist from Vikhroli, said that only a fraction of parents who have registered on RTE admission portal are going through the process. “While many of the unaided schools in the city have not even signed up for RTE admissions, those that have are not shown to be available. The parents are nervous,” he said.

Multiple petitions have been filed at Bombay High Court (HC) against the new rules. Following a Public Interest Litigation by Yavatmal-based Parivartan Samajik Bahuddeshiya Sanstha and three others, a case was heard on Wednesday by a bench of justices Nitin Sambre and Ajay Mantri, which sought a reply from the principal secretary of the state School Education Department by May 8. Movement for Peace and Justice and Welfare along with 16 parents have filed a writ petition at the principal bench, which will be heard on Monday.

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