RTE mess: Middlemen reap benefits

Education department shrugs off its responsibility

RTE mess: Middlemen reap benefits

Children from actual poor families may be deprived of their right to education despite the government implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act, due to various loopholes in the system and the education department shirking its responsibility of verifying the applications received.

A private school in the city has lodged a complaint against the education department for turning a blind-eye towards misuse of the RTE Act, even though such instances were brought to its notice.

It has alleged that a new breed of middlemen have emerged who are involved in helping parents — not from below poverty line families — get free seats for their children under RTE Act.

The education department is also allotting seats without properly verifying supporting documents. So, the needy students are left out of the race, the school has complained.
Under the RTE Act, 52 seats were available at United Academy School and 162 applications were received. All the 52 students were selected in the presence of education department officials. But, on verification, it was found that many of the facts provided in the applications and supporting documents were not true.

Ex-MLC and advisor for United Academy School C N Chandrasekhar said: “We are ready to admit poor children under RTE Act. But, genuine children should get the benefit. We do not mind shutting down our school, but we will not admit students, unless they are proved to be genuine beneficiaries. All 52 seats will be kept vacant, whenever we get genuine students, we will admit them.”

It has been found by the school that in most of cases the address in not genuine, while some have failed to submit documents like address proof and income certificates.

If there are documents, the facts are either not true or not clear. Most of them have submitted domicile certificates issued by the city municipal council (CMC) as address proof. The RTE Act rules state that one of the 14 documents specified by the election commission for voting should be produced as address proof.

The school wrote letters to parents of all shortlisted students to verify facts. Out of them, 32 letters returned within four days — the reason, either the address was wrong or such a person did not even exist there.

Applications

Applications have been received from students who are studying in 2nd or 3rd standard, seeking admission for first standard under RTE Act. Some applications had photographs of children wearing school uniforms. The United Academy School identified the uniforms and sent its staff for verification. The staff found that the parents who had paid hefty fees to admit their wards to the respective schools had produced income certificates from the revenue department, mentioning that their annual income was just Rs 10,000.

Surprisingly, parents of a 2nd standard student of United Academy School itself had applied for a 1st standard seat under RTE Act.

A woman, who is a government employee, has mentioned her annual income as Rs 2.53 lakh in the application, but has enclosed an income certificate for just Rs 25,000.

When the school authorities drew attention of the officials in the education department about the discrepancies, they said the responsibility of verifying facts was on the CMC commissioner and tahsildar.

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