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Govt reminds schools of act

The state government on Monday reminded schools to strictly follow the provisions of the Right to Education (RTE) act from the academic session starting January.

School education minister Bratya Basu said schools should admit students following the RTE rules and action will be taken against institutions that did not.

“The RTE act will be implemented from January next year. Each and every school must follow the RTE rules in all respects from the next academic session,” said the minister.

The act aims to provide elementary education (classes I to VIII) to every child between six and 14 years of age.

Only unaided minority schools have been exempted since the Constitution grants minority communities the right to run schools their way.

Under the RTE rules, schools must admit students to the elementary classes through a draw of lots and there should be no screening test. No child can be denied admission by a school as long as there is a vacant seat. The act also bars state-aided schools from charging fees from the students.

If there are more applicants to a school than seats, then it has to admit students through a draw of lots, reiterated the minister.

“We will take action against schools that deny admission to children despite having vacant seats,” said Basu.

According to a senior official in the education department, the action against a school will depend on the nature of its offence. “The government can cancel the recognition granted to a school or charge a sizable fine,” said a senior official in the education department.

Basu also said that the government on Monday received the first complaint about violation of RTE norms. The complaint was lodged by a guardian, who said a city school had denied admission to his ward.

“We are probing the allegation. We appeal to parents to alert us immediately if their children are asked to sit for a screening test or any (state-aided) school charges admission or other fees,” said Basu.

In case a student fails to secure admission in a school in his locality, his guardians should immediately contact the school education department. “In that case, the government will arrange the student’s admission to a suitable school,” said the minister.

The parents can lodge complaints directly to the state school education department or the district inspector of schools. The phone numbers, email addresses and postal addresses of the authorities with whom complaints can be lodged will be announced shortly, said Basu.