The latest hurdle to impede admission to schools under the Right to Education quota is the candidate’s age.
New Baldwin English Primary School at Dodda Banaswadi here has denied admission to 16 candidates on the grounds that they did not meet the age criterion for admission under the RTE Act.
The Act mandates free and compulsory education for children between six and 14 years of age in neighbourhood schools, till they complete elementary education—class I to VIII. Section 12(1)(c) of the Act provides for admission to pre-primary classes and does not set a maximum age for admission.
The New Baldwin English Primary School’s action, hence, does not conform to the RTE guidelines. In the process, the school has dashed hopes of children like Yeshwant T, Ramya, Rushita M, Vaishnavi Bharadwaj T J and Nithyashree, all aged between six and seven years, of availing quality education.
This came to light after the family of Parthasaradhi Naidu, aged seven, approached the block education officer (BEO) seeking a list of applicants to the institute under the RTE quota. Despite being born on February 7, 2006, Parthasaradhi was denied admission to the school.
There were many anomalies in the admission procedure. The application of R Vishal Roshan Raj was rejected stating that he overshot the age limit.
He was born on September 23, 2009, which implied that as on March 11, 2013, he was only three and a half years old. In another case, Ujwal, born on December 15, 2008, was turned down on the same grounds.
Another candidate, two-and-a-half-year-old Ganavi, was rejected for being underage. Though arguments against Ganavi’s admission were valid, no justification could be found for the same school rejecting Vishal’s case stating that he exceeded the age limit, since he was only three and a half years old.
Kalidas Reddy, a family friend of Parthasaradhi, said: “If the age group to avail the benefit is six to 14 years, where is the room for rejection? There is something fishy with the list prepared by the BEO committee.”
The school management has washed its hands of the controversy, stating that they played no part in rejecting or accepting the applications.
School Principal Shaila Kumar said: “The list was prepared by the BEO-appointed committee in which we do not have any role to play. We also allow admission of the seven-year-old students under the RTE in the first standard. If the child is above seven years we also consider relaxing the age limit.”
Bangalore North Block Education Officer V Ramesh said though he was not aware of the incident, he would check the records to rectify existing anomalies.