The Telegraph
Saturday , March 1 , 2014
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RTE stays elitist, poor kids invisible

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi claims credit on behalf of the UPA for Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009, but one of the major social changes the RTE was supposed to effect, is still on paper.

To bridge the “quality education” gap, RTE mandates all unaided non-minority and aided minority private schools to reserve 25 per cent of seats for poor children staying nearby. But, as a survey of social organisation Pratigya has revealed, only 1.6 per cent poor children are admitted to private schools in the capital.

Pratigya carried out the six-month survey in 30 CBSE-affiliated schools and eight slum areas, jointly with Asia Centre for Enterprise, New Delhi, to assess the status of RTE implementation in Ranchi during 2011-14.

On the reasons behind the low enrolment of poor children in private schools, Pratigya secretary Rajan Kumar Singh said: “Both schools and parents are misinformed. They think only children of BPL card-holding families are eligible, but children from non-BPL card-holding families whose names are recently on the BPL list or who have an income certificate stating earnings of Rs 36,000 a year or below and signed by the respective circle officer are eligible.”

According to him, 87 per cent slum dwellers had no idea about RTE. However, 66 per cent general category parents know about the 25 per cent reservation in the RTE Act.

Pratigya chief programme manager Chandan Singh said the malaise of poor implementation was rife. “The state has not laid down an easy-to-understand and transparent system of admission,” he said. “When one has to reach out to weaker sections of society, one needs to make application and admission rules understandable to all.”

Another bugbear is money.

“The state is yet to release fees for poor children in private schools. It was decided Rs 5,100 a year per child should be given,” the Pratigya chief programme manager said.

School principals added verifying documents of BPL card-holders was a huge task.

Ramchi DC Vinay Kumar Choubey said Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) was preparing a list of eligible BPL students since 2010-11.