The Right to Education (RTE) Act which provides for a minimum quota in private schools for underprivileged children has witnessed a steep rise in the number of enrolments in the state of Tamil Nadu in past few years and more markedly in 2015-16.
According to the Minister for School Education P Benjamin, speaking in the State Assembly on 9th August, the year 2015-16 witnessed 94,811 students getting enrolled in total as against a figure of 49,864 students in 2013-14. Even the figures in 2014-15 were 86,729 which in itself showed marked improvement from its preceding years, he added. This according to him was due to the effective steps taken by the authorities for displaying the vacancies under RTE provisions in private schools.
According to the minister, “Owing to the awareness programmes organised in 2,623 habitations by the SSA (Sarva Siksha Abhiyan) on the provisions of the RTE Act, the admission of children from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections in self-financing schools has increased over the past three years.” He also said “Being a nodal agency for the implementation of RTE Act, the Directorate of Matriculation Schools (DoMS) has disseminated the provisions of the Act to all principals of matriculation schools as well as parents in collaboration with the SCERT.”
As per the Right to Education Act, at least 25 percent of seats at entry level classes (LKG and class one) in private schools need to be reserved for children hailing from economically and socially disadvantaged sections.
The DoMS ensures the issuance and collection of filled in forms for admission of children under 25 percent reservation as stipulated under RTE Act through the district level offices, said the minister.
He further added in reference to the rainwater harvesting in schools that the DoMS ‘ensures the creation of rainwater harvesting facilities in all matriculation schools, to stake their claim for recognition and renewal of recognition’.
On the other hand, questions are being raised as to why students are being admitted in private schools if government schools are available in the area by P.B. Gajendrababu, general secretary, State Platform for Common School System.
Also pertinent to note is the fact that government has failed to reimburse the amount payable to the private schools on time. According to K.R. Nandakumar, general secretary, Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary, Matriculation and Higher Secondary Schools Association, “The government is yet to pay Rs 3 crore to private schools. For last year’s admission, the government has to reimburse Rs 130 crore.”
Read here : The achievements of Right to Education Act