Schools still resist RTE, deny seats to kids
Some cite lack of infrastructure, others take shelter under age rule
As many as 20 students selected for admissions to the Vidyavardhaka Sangha School, Rajajinagar and one student at National Public School (NPS), Indiranagar, under the 25 per cent quota of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, are yet to be admitted, even a month after the commencement of classes for the new academic year.
According to authorities at Vidyavardhaka, the 20 children cannot be admitted because they do not have the infrastructure to do so.
“We admitted 170 children in pre-nursery last year and this year, all these children have taken admission to the Lower Kindergarten (LKG). There is no seat left for admissions,” said Dwarkanath, secretary, Vidyavardhaka Sangha School.†
Under the RTE Act, 2009, however, there is no such provision to deny admission to a student.
“The rules regarding admissions are very clear and simple. If the entry point to a school under the Act is LKG and if the LKG section is recognised by the government, the school does not have any reason to deny admission under the 25 per cent quota of the Act,” said Niranjan Aradhya, fellow at the Centre for Child and the Law of the National Law School India University.
The school claims that they have taken the matter to court and have got a stay order on the same. Caught in between are students and their parents, who have continuously knocked on the doors of the Block Education Officer time and again, but with no results.
“I have not tried for admissions anywhere else. The school is nearby and it will be really good if she had got admission there. We will try approaching the school authorities again,” said Shekhar H, the parent of one of the 20 children.
Age, a confusing factor
The case of Dheeraj Kumar, who got a seat for class I under the 25 per cent quota at NPS, Indiranagar, represents a grey area. He was not given admission on the grounds that he was five years and two months old at the time of applying.
“The child is underage according to the rules. Under the CBSE rules, only a child who has attained the age of six years can be admitted to class one,” said K P Gopalakrishnan, chairman, NPS.††
A circular by the Department of Public Instruction in February does mention that the age of a candidate applying to class one under the Act has to be five years 10 months. The circular also mentions that in case a child is five years old, admission through ‘voluntary arrangement’ is possible. It, however, is not clear on what this ‘voluntary arrangement’ entails.
“The government should issue a new circular to clear the confusion. Not all children can attain the exact age at the time of admission. There is bound to be a variation. The criteria should be five plus for class one and three plus for LKG,” said Aradhya.
Even though Section 10 (1) of the Act says no child should be denied admission to class I, if he/she has completed five years of age, this does not specifically come under the 25 per cent quota. †