Mission 25% in Delhi not a grand success

Mission 25% in Delhi not a grand success

Delhi, the first city to toy with 25 per cent quota for poor students in private schools much before the Right to Education Act came into force, has not been able to achieve 100 per cent success.

The Delhi experience has not been an exciting one, claim lawyers and activists. They say for many children government schools are the only hope, but Delhi does not have the infrastructure to accommodate all children in the school going age. The onus of “quality education” lies with private schools that are either not adhering to laws or misrepresenting facts.

“Till private schools are not discussed, issues pertaining to government schools also do not come to the forefront. Parents applying under the EWS category are being forced to pay Rs 2,000 for admissions on the sly even in government schools when the law states that education should be free for them,” said Ashok Agarwal, an advocate and RTE campaigner.

Experts say the argument for 25 per cent seats for poor in all schools is to ensure social integration between the rich and poor. “Both are citizens of India and have the same rights under the Constitution. The private sector does not have a monopoly over quality as Kendriya Vidyalaya schools run by the government outperform a huge percentage of private schools. However, it goes without saying that government schools need to be enhanced and that is the principal thrust of the Act anyway,” said Anjela Taneja, education coordinator, Oxfam India.

Seats vacant

More than 9,000 EWS seats are still lying vacant in 1,183 private schools and nearly 765 schools have not given admission to students applying under this category in the 2011-12 academic year. An RTI application reveals that some of the city's top schools like Birla Vidhya Niketan, Bal Niketan Public School, St Xaviers School and others did not admit a single EWS student.

“Most of the EWS students are asked to withdraw from schools for no valid reasons or peculiar reasons, such as the student does not fit well in class, is a slow learner, parents are objecting to the mix of students in a class and others. On one hand we are trying to promote inclusive education and on the other we are discriminating against them,” said Khagesh Jha, another advocate.

Taneja added that the Supreme Court verdict iterated that every child in India is entitled to the standards laid down under the RTE Act. “These norms have to be met in both government and private schools by 2013,” she said.

However, Ameeta Wattal, principal of Springdales school and Vice Chairperson of National Schools Progressive Alliance, believes that this endeavour of providing education to all will not be successful till there is full co-operation between the department of education and private schools. “There is no communication from the government and clarity about reimbursements for the non-fee students,” said Wattal.


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