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Only 29% of seats for weaker sections filled under RTE in 5 years

Education NewsAn exhaustive report — State of the Nation: RTE Section 12(1)(C) — by IIM, Ahmedabad, and Central Square Foundation covers private schools in 28 states and is based on the analysis of District Information System for Education (DISE) 2013-14 data.

What emerges is a wide variation across states. If Delhi is right on top having filled 92% of 38,297 seats for children from economically weaker sections (EWS), Madhya Pradesh has filled 88% of 1.82 lakh EWS seats. Undivided Andhra Pradesh has an abysmal record of filling only 0.2% of 1.72 lakh seats. Uttar Pradesh has filled 3% of 5.84 lakh seats, Tamil Nadu 11% of 1.43 lakh seats, Maharashtra 19% of 1.42 lakh seats. Biharas fill rate is 20.78% of 18,930 seats and West Bengal has done better by filling 32.05% of 54,097 seats for EWS.

The report also highlights that in 2013-14, out of 2.06 lakh private unaided schools with Class I, only about 45,000 schools reported enrolling students under EWS category. States such as Andhra Pradesh (0.1%), Odisha (1%) and Uttar Pradesh (2%) have reported the lowest school participation rate, whereas states such as Rajasthan (65%), Delhi (48%) and Uttarakhand (43%) rank among states with the highest school participation rate under this provision. The report also highlights a fair amount of inconsistency between the DISE data and data on the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan website, state websites, and even those reported as responses to RTI queries that were filed by the authors.

Anita Kaul, former secretary, department of justice, who played a pivotal role in the drafting and implementing RTE Act, said, “The study will provide useful inputs in finding out gaps in the implementation of RTE Act.” She said RTE Act is perhaps the only Act where rules were drafted in a record time of one year. “Maybe there is a need to review some of the rules to resolve ambiguities and gaps,” she said.

However, Kaul is not sure why the report points out lack of clarity on the criteria of ‘entry level’ should it apply from class I or pre-school — for 25% reservation. She said RTE Act clearly states that reservation will be applicable from pre-school classes wherever they exist. Kaul is also not supportive of report’s idea of having a centralized date for lottery to decide on 25% reservation. “The idea of a centralized date for conducting lottery is faulty in a diverse country like India,” she said.

Kaul said the idea behind 25% reservation was to change the character of schools and make it more equitable and respectful of differences and diversity. She said there should be some thought on curriculum transaction so that “classroom transaction become more democratic and inclusive.”

Source: The Times of India

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