Maharashtra has emerged in the bottom five in implementation of the 25% quota for children from economically weaker sections (EWS) under the Right to Education (RTE) Act during 2013-14.
A recent report by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, shows that Maharashtra filled up nearly 19% of the seats in 2013-14, lower than the national average of 29%. States such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat fared much better, filling more than 40% of the reserved seats.
Unaided non-minority schools have to reserve 25% seats for EWS students and provide them free education under section 12(1)(c) of the RTE Act, 2009. The state government is then supposed to reimburse these schools.
According to the State of the Nation: RTE section 12(1)(c) report, out of 1.42 lakh seats available across Maharashtra in 2013-14, only 27,635 were filled, — seat fill rate of 19.35%. This was much lower than states such as Madhya Pradesh (88.24%) and Rajasthan (69.38%). Uttar Pradesh was at 3.62% and Andhra Pradesh was 0.21%. In 2012-13, the seat fill rate in the state was just 1.81%.
“There is a huge variation in state-wise performance, it is largely a product of the high fill rate in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh — two states that accounted for over 3.2 lakh enrolments under this section,” said Ankur Sarin, faculty, public systems group, IIM-A.
Sarin said they also found several discrepancies in the data collected of the implementation of the quota in the District Information System for Education (DISE) report. “This is an indication that it is not being implemented seriously,” said Sarin.
“The state did not publicise the seats available under the RTE among those who stood to benefit from it,” said Sudhir Paranjape, member, Anudanit Shiksha Bachao Samiti, an NGO. “Even schools were not aware of this provision, before online admissions began in Mumbai and Pune.”
The report revealed that unlike other states, Maharashtra had not calculated the amount of reimbursement. “The statement (of calculations) has been copied from MHRD’s model rules,” stated the report. “No authority was named to asses per child expenditure.”
However, senior education officials feel implementation of RTE has picked up since last year. The authors of the report are planning to submit the report to the state government soon.