The Telegraph
Wednesday , January 22 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Schools to unlock seats

Panicky parents, who couldn’t get their wards through entry-level classes this year at private English-medium schools where seats were allotted via lottery, can now dare to hope.

Like every year, most of the 25 per cent seats reserved for the needy students — from BPL or SC/ST categories — are vacant in the much-coveted English-medium schools.

Now, authorities of city schools have decided that they would wait for three months from the commencement of academic session and then start admitting general candidates to the reserved seats.

Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, mandates selection by lottery in schools to ease pressure of performing for tiny tots as well as reserved seats for poor students to promote inclusive education.

However, most underprivileged parents are either too shy to approach posh schools or are ignorant of the reservation or simply don’t have basic documents that make children eligible for admission.

Also, there are glitches in the payment system. According to norms, the government pays the fees of needy children to the schools, but the system is riddled with red-tape.

Association of Jharkhand Unaided Private Educational Institutions, which took the decision to “open” the reserved seats after three months, justified its decision.

Most of the seats reserved under guidelines of RTE Act either remained unused or were filled very late in the last academic session, said A.P.R. Nair, secretary of the outfit.

“The schools adhered to norms, but did not get what they were promised. Two years are over and we are still waiting for payment (of fees). The state government has not even fixed the cost of education per child and schools are sole losers. Keeping these factors in mind, we will wait for three months and then let the seats go to general applicants,” Nair added.

City schools have already conducted selection through software or manual processes earlier this month. In some schools, however, not a single student for BPL or SC/ST categories turned up.

Motilal Nehru Public School principal Ashu Tiwary said though three needy parents collected the forms, they did not submit them.

“After lottery, general category seats have been filled, The rest 25 per cent seats, reserved for the underprivileged, are vacant. Once three months are over, we will leave these seats for the management quota, siblings or those who didn’t make it through the lottery process,” said Tiwary.

Another principal suggested the system must be done away with. “Had the RTE provisions been successful, parents hailing from BPL and needy sections would have been aware enough to bring their children to school. That hasn’t happened,” he said on condition of anonymity.