A student seeking a free seat in an Andheri school had a certificate vouching that his family’s annual income was less than Rs one lakh, but a monthly power bill of Rs 2,000 exposed their lie.
The student was among seven applicants who submitted fake income certificates in City International School to get free seats under the Right to Education (RTE) Act quota reserved for poor students. The school complained about the students to the education department on Thursday.
This is the second case in the last two months in Mumbai. Hindustan Times reported on May 30 that Lakshadham and Yashodham Playmate Schools, Goregaon, had informed police about 11 students produced fake certificates.
The reserved seats are available in 317 schools in Mumbai that do not get monetary aid from the government and are not run by minority groups. The RTE Act entitles students from economically weaker families to avail free education from Class 1 to 8 in such institutes.
City International School realized that the certificates could be fake after looking at the electricity bills submitted as address proofs by the applicants. “Education officials warned us in a meeting that it’s our responsibility to verify the documents before admitting the children,” said Maharukh Kadodwalla, principal, City International.
When the certificates were sent to the tehsildar’s office - which issues the documents - the school learned that the papers, bearing the official stamp, were fake. “The office wrote to us to file a police complaint and cancel the admissions,” said Kadodwalla. “We refrained from going to the police immediately and informed the education department.”
Officials suspect that the fake documents might be the work of agents, who charge fees from parents. “In the Goregaon cases, parents confessed to paying money to agents to get the certificates instead of doing the legwork themselves. These are uneducated parents and so they could not discern that the certificates were fake,” said BB Chavan, deputy director of education, Mumbai region.
Alarmed by the incidents, the education authorities also asked schools to carefully peruse the documents and cancel admissions if they encounter fake applicants. But have asked them to readmit those who later bring in the originals.
What the scam means to us:
Since the government reimburses the schools for admitting RTE students, the taxpayer’s money is being used to fund these students
When ineligible students are admitted to the seats, it leads to the misuse of these funds
Who can apply for the reserved seats:
According to the RTE Act, 2009, unaided, non-minority city schools are supposed to reserve 25% seats at the entry-level for students from economically weaker sections. The RTE Act defines families with an annual income of Rs1 lakh and less as eligible for admissions to seats reserved under the quota.
How many applied this year:
Around 6, 409 students had applied for 9,664 seats available in 317 schools. The second round of admissions is pending.