Private Schools In 1km Radius Of Govt Schools To Be Exempt From RTE

Private Schools In 1km Radius Of Govt Schools To Be Exempt From RTE

The Maharashtra government introduced the exemption last week, through a notification to change the state’s RTE rules

Musab QaziUpdated: Friday, February 16, 2024, 01:26 PM IST
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Private, unaided schools located in the vicinity of government-run and aided schools will be exempt from having to reserve 25 per cent of their seats for marginalised students, as required under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. The Maharashtra government introduced the exemption last week, through a notification to change the state’s RTE rules. Under the amended rules, the local authorities in the state have been directed to exclude private schools located within a one-kilometre radius of government and aided schools from the ambit of mandatory admissions to children belonging to disadvantaged groups and weaker sections.

While the government said that the move was aimed at promoting government schools, the activists claim that it will lead to disparity among privileged and marginalised children. Under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 25 per cent of the seats at the entry point – Class 1 or pre-primary section – in private unaided schools must be reserved for children from economically weaker and disadvantaged sections.

These students get education free of cost, with the government reimbursing the schools for their tuition. Schools run by religious and linguistic minorities are exempted from this requirement.

2018 Karnataka amendment

The amendment to the state’s RTE rules is similar to the one brought in by Karnataka in 2018. The move had led to a significant drop in the number of reserved seats and ultimately, the number of disadvantaged children admitted to private schools. While the Karnataka High Court has upheld the legal validilty of the change in rules, the issue is currently being heard by the Supreme Court. An official from the state government said that while the exemption would be applicable to private schools across the state, it would largely impact those in urban areas which have a higher concentration of schools. ‘‘We have been providing so many facilities at government schools. Hence, students should be admitted there as well,’’ he said.

The decision comes a month after private schools in the state threatened to boycott RTE admissions over Rs 2,400cr dues in fee reimbursements that the state is yet to clear. Government officials met with the representatives of the private schools, which pushed for the implementation of the ‘Karnataka model’ in the state. ‘‘We will definitely benefit from this decision. In any case, the real poor weren’t availing the benefits of RTE admissions. Undeserving candidates were also able to secure admissions through false documents,’’ said Sanjayrao Tayade Patil, president, Maharashtra English Schools Trustees Association.

Activist's reaction

However, activists have strongly come out against the exemption. They alleged that the decision seeks to favour private institutes, while reducing public expenditure on education. ‘‘The reservation for marginalised students in private schools was not only meant for their education but also to enable them to socialise with privileged kids. This new decision will divide students along economic lines and disturb social balance. It will also deny these children an opportunity to study in English-medium schools,’’ said Mukund Kirdat, a spokesperson for the Aam Aadmi Party

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