Applications to the seats reserved under the Right to Education (RTE) quota have multiplied — from 1,936 to 9,426 — in the past four years, but the number of admissions have not increased at the same pace.
With this year’s admission process concluding on Saturday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to probe into the reasons for the poor turnout.
Students from economically and socially weaker sections are entitled to free education from classes 1 to 8 in 25% seats in non-minority, unaided schools under the RTE Act. Around 7,449 seats were available in 334 schools in the city this year.
While the figures released by the BMC show that awareness on the quota has increased since the inception of online admission process in 2014-15, the rate of admissions is comparatively poor.
In 2014-15, out of 1,930 applicants, as many as 1,069 secured admissions. In 2015-16, only 1,688 out of 4,096 applicants took admission. In 2016-17, out of 6,409 aspirants, 2, 506 confirmed their seats. In 2017-18, out of 7,449 students, only 2, 798 took admissions.
BMC education chief Mahesh Palkar said they would analyse the trend and come up with solutions to improve the turnout.
“Within a couple of days, we will conduct an in-depth study of what is going wrong in the admission process,” said Palkar.
Although the BMC conducted five admission rounds between March 6 and April 29 this year, 5,000 seats were left vacant.
“It is surprising that so many RTE seats are remaining vacant even after multiple admission rounds,” he said.
According to the BMC, the rate of admissions began decreasing after the Supreme Court exempted minority and aided schools from following the RTE quota. “This might have brought down the number of good quality schools offering RTE seats,” said Palkar. “But a detailed analysis will help us find the exact cause and work on rectifying it.”
Education activists said a probe into the admission process was necessary and long due. They said that admission rates are poor because schools reject candidates allotted to them. “Schools are unwelcoming towards RTE students. They guide them and are always looking for excuses to turn them away,” said Sudhir Paranjape, member of Anudanit Shiksha Samiti, a non-governmental organisation, that works for disadvantaged groups.
He added that some schools cancelled admissions of students last year, stating that they had submitted fake income certificates but they were not taken back even after they produced original documents.