The Telegraph
Wednesday , December 19 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Parents frown, principals fume

Private schools of Jamshedpur and guardians are yet to reach an agreement on the right method of admitting students at the entry level even in the second year of implementation of the RTE Act.

While parents and representatives of Jamshedpur Abhibhavak Sangh have raised questions about transparency of Saras 2.0, the software that was used by most English-medium schools last year to enrol students at the entry level, the cradles are adamant about using the same.

A number of principals and members of management committees of various schools expressed their displeasure by walking out of a meeting that was called by Indubhshan Singh, superintendent of education (DSE), East Singhbhum, who is also the nodal agent to implement RTE in private schools, on Tuesday.

The DSE had called the meeting to discuss the pros and cons of conducting lottery through Saras and manually. Although all 45 private English-medium schools were invited to the meeting, representatives of only 23 turned up. A very few of them stayed till the end of the meeting.

The principals didn’t take it kindly when some members of Jamshedpur Abhibhavak Sangh and parents alleged that Saras 2.0 could be tampered by schools to suit their purpose and get desired names in the final list. They also demanded that the selection process be conducted through manual lottery system.

“Last year, many schools had selected students with the help of Saras, but some parents claimed to have admitted their wards with donation. If this is the scenario, where is the transparency of the new system? We would have accepted the software had it been recommended by the government, but it was the schools who chose their desired agency,” claimed Abhishek Chopra, a member of Jamshedpur Abhibhavak Sangh.

Saras 2.0, developed by Jupiter Software and Systems Pvt Ltd, works on data fed to it. It mixes the given names and takes out lists for a maximum five times after which a printout is taken. Although the schools maintain that district information officer Sunil Kumar had approved the software last year, a section of parents claimed that it could be tampered with.

Schools, on their part, have rejected the idea of going back to the manual lottery system, which was followed by some cradles like DAV Public School, Bistupur, in the presence of local MLA, school management and parent representatives last year.

“Why should we listen to parents? The software was approved by the district administration and there is no way we are going to shift to the manual system ,” said A.P.R. Nair, secretary of the Association of Jharkhand Unaided Private Educational Institutions.

Meanwhile, some schools like Motilal Nehru Public School have already conducted the lottery process without even informing parents or anybody from the education department.

“The schools are wary of handling the huge crowd of parents during manual lottery. But there is a solution. If we conduct all the lotteries on the same day and time, a parent can only be present at one school at a time. Let’s see what can be done on this,” said DSE Singh.