The Right to Education (RTE) quota for pre-primary classes has been scrapped by Maharashtra government. Reason: It says it cannot afford to reimburse schools. The state made the decision public through a government resolution issued on Thursday.
With the new rule, students between three and six years of age from economically weaker sections will not get free education under the RTE Act. Several students, who have already been admitted to RTE seats in the pre-primary sections of non-minority, unaided schools will have to let go of their seats, but they will be readmitted to the same schools when they reach Class 1, the GR stated.
So far, schools were admitting RTE students to pre-primary, if it was their entry-point. But they were not being reimbursed for those seats by the government.
Hindustan Times had reported on April 30, that the government had decided to implement the RTE quota only from Class 1 onwards, following a Bombay high court directive stating they will have to reimburse schools for admitting students in the pre-primary section.
“For the 2015-16 academic year, many schools have admitted students in Class 1 and in nursery or junior KG in the 25% RTE quota. All these schools should admit children to Class 1 this year,” read the GR, issued by the state school education department. “Nursery and junior KG students will not have the right to take admission in the quota.”
The students whose admissions are cancelled will be admitted in the same school two to three years later, when they reach Class 1, added the GR. Nursery students will receive admissions after two years and junior KG after three years.
Education activists and parents have opposed the GR, calling it unconstitutional. “Section 12 of the RTE Act states that if a school’s entry-point is pre-primary, then the quota is applicable from that point itself,” said Sudhir Paranjape, member of the Anudanit Shiksha Bachao Samiti, non-government organisation (NGO) working with parents. “This resolution is going against the RTE Act and the parents will challenge it in court.”
Institutions having kindergarten as their entry-point said that to admit 25% RTE students in Class 1, they will have to keep that many seats vacant in all the pre-primary classes, which will result in a huge revenue loss for them. “We have nursery as entry-point, so we will have to keep nearly 125 seats vacant in order to admit 25% students in Class 1,” said a spokesperson from the Goenka Educational Institutes in Goregaon and Thane. “Also, what about the students we have admitted in these sections in the past two years?”
Others have also asked for a couple of years’ grace period, as admissions for Class 1 have been completed this year. “Our senior KG students have already moved to Class 1 this year. We do not have any room to admit an additional 25% seats,” said Amol Dhamdhere, vice-president, Indian Education Society’s group of schools. “We need at least a year, so that we can keep 25% seats aside in the next batch.”
Schools are also worried that cancelling admissions to pre-primary under RTE quota, will leave them with 25% vacant seats. “If these seats go unfilled, it might result in a loss for us,” Dhamdhere said.