Seventy percent of the seats allotted under the Right to Education (RTE) quota in Madhya Pradesh are left vacant this year even as there was a delay of over 10 months in the allotment.
The RTE Act guarantees every child right to full-elementary education and mandates reservation of a minimum of 25% seats to provide free schooling to poor students in all private unaided primary schools.
Admission of students under the Right to Education in different schools takes place in January every year. This year only 1.70 lakh students took the benefit of the admission scheme though more than 4 .2 lakh seats are reserved under the RTE quota in Madhya Pradesh.
For the poor response, parents blamed an online-admission process the state government introduced this year for the allocation of the seats.
“This year the seats were allotted through an online lottery system. The process was very tedious. One had to fill a long form, which was earlier done at the block offices, and attach the documents online. Documents were verified only after one received a SMS confirming selection under the RTE. The process was very complicated,” said Meena Srivas, a parent who had applied for seat under the RTE quota for her child.
The government, however, differed with the parents.
“Majority of the seats are left vacant because parents like to avail the facility only in a few selected schools. They are not interested to put their children in any school we offer them through lottery,” said KPS Tomar, an education department official overseeing the RTE seats allotment.
“Earlier the process was manual so admission fixing was rampant, but it was streamlined by introducing the online process,” he added.
Rajya Shiksha Kendra (RSK) in February found lot of irregularities in the manual allotment process and decided to make the process online.
Accordingly, the School Education Department had collaborated with the National Information Centre (NIC) to develop the software for the purpose, but the latter failed to develop it within the stipulated time, causing the delay in the online process.
RSK commissioner Deepti Gaur Mukherjee the state government also decided to reimburse fees to the eligible candidates online to make the process more transparent and check manipulation.
Madhya Pradesh government through RSK reimburses around Rs 3500 per student, who is entitled for the seat under RTE quota.
In Bhopal alone 30,000 children took the benefit of the reimbursement in the past four years, but sources said the number of children actually enrolled in schools under the scheme was much less.