Maharashtra government will use Google Maps to ensure that students are allocated schools close to their homes, in the online admissions to seats under the Right to Education (RTE) Act this year. The admissions are expected to start in the approaching weeks.
This will be the second year for online admissions to 25% seats at entry levels in unaided, non-minority schools. Under the RTE Act, these seats are reserved for students from economically weaker sections.
Trained department officials will independently review the locations filled in by schools and parents in online applications, to make sure that they are accurately mapped.
“This has been done as last year, several students were allocated schools far from their homes,” said Dinkar Temkar, deputy director of primary education. “As a result, schools refused to admit them, though they were allotted seats through online admissions.”
Investigations revealed that this happened because some schools had given wrong locations, and few others were incorrectly marked on the map. “Our software had allotted seats as per the locations fed into it. But we found that in many cases, locations themselves were incorrect,” said Temkar. “In some cases, even parents gave incorrect addresses.”
Google Maps will be used to verify locations of schools and parents as well. “In some cases even parents had not given correct addresses, so they were unable to produce address proofs at the time of admissions,” said Temkar.
Cluster heads will be present at help centres, to verify locations entered by schools and students. There will be around 26 help centres across the city.
Parents and activists said accurate mapping was desperately needed in the process. “My child missed out on admission last year, as the system allotted him a seat in Versova, which is nearly seven kilometres away from my residence in Goregaon,” said Ahmed Shaikh, a parent from Motilal Nagar.
Activists said that it is easy to verify the locations. “Officials have to check the coordinates given by the school to its actual location. We did it ourselves last year,” said Sudhir Paranjape, member of Anudanit Shiksha Bachao Samiti, a non-government organisation helping parents in applying for online admissions.
Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited, the agency providing technical support for online admissions, has been replaced by National Informatics Centre (NIC) this year. This has resulted in delaying the admission process. “The software is undergoing a security audit. We will be able to release a schedule in the next three to four days,” said Temkar.