Schools using age ruse to reject RTE admissions

Plaints flood Task Force, but BEOs clueless about redressing them

Schools using age ruse to reject RTE admissions

Lack of clarity on the upper age limit for admissions under the RTE Act is causing much confusion in the ongoing admission process for the academic year 2014-15.

On the one hand, schools appear to be using it as an excuse to reject applications while on the other, Block Education Officers (BEO) are clueless about tackling the issue.  

Take for instance Namitha (name changed), who is now four years and three months old. The child who was born on November 30, 2009, was denied admission to LKG in a school in RT Nagar last year for the reason that she did not complete three years 10 months at the time of admission. This year again, the school has rejected her admission on the grounds that she is “too old” for LKG. As per the State government rules, a child can be enrolled for LKG if he or she has completed three years 10 months or four years old. 

In case of class I, the student should have completed at least five years 10 months. For children between five years and five years 10 months, the government will permit admission after a written letter from the parent that the early admission of their child is voluntary. 

“The school cannot take the decision to reject the child. Yet, in this school, admission to the child was rejected for two consecutive years,” said Manjunath, Namitha’s uncle and a child rights activist.

In another school in the city, the management had decided that they would give admissions to children born only in June 2008. “So the applications are rejected if the child is born a month earlier or later,” Nagasimha G Rao of Child Rights Trust, who is also part of the RTE Task Force, said, citing a complaint from a parent. He said that it was high time that the government stipulated an upper age limit. The Task Force had received complaints from several parents in the city that schools were using age as an excuse to reject applications. 

One of the BEOs in the city told Deccan Herald that they too were in the dark. “We have written to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) seeking clarity in the issue.” DPI director (primary) K Ananda said the government permits enrolment in government schools, of children who have crossed the age limit in case the child has never gone to school earlier. 

However, with regard to admission in unaided schools under RTE reservation quota, there is no upper limit for age prescribed. 

No ‘neighbourhood’ 

The RTE Task Force has received numerous complaints that in rural areas, panchayat limits are being considered for admissions instead of the neighbourhood schools concept prescribed by the government. Even if the child is staying less than a kilometre away from school, he or she will not get admission if he or she is from a different panchayat limit. 

“We have sent recommendations to the department based on complaints from parents, but there has been no response,” Nagasimha Rao said. The Task Force is receiving at least 30 complaints every day. This is likely to increase, with no clarity from the department’s end, he said.

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