Amid pandemic, uncertainty looms over EWS admissions in private schools in Delhi
The centralised admission process on these seats began on January 25, and the DoE declared the first list of selected candidates on February 29.Updated: Jul 11, 2020 01:38 IST
With school campuses across the national capital being shut as a result of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, admissions to seats in private schools reserved for economically disadvantaged families have also been disrupted. While parents whose children were selected in the first list of selected candidates released by the Directorate of Education (DoE) in February said they could not complete the process due to the prevailing situation, many said they are still waiting for the second list to be made released.
Under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, 25% of all seats in private schools are to be reserved for families under the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Disadvantaged Groups (DG) in entry-level classes — nursery, KG and class 1. Starting in 2020, 3% of these 25% of seats have been kept aside for children with disabilities. This year, there were around 45,000 reserved seats available in around 1,700 private unaided schools in Delhi.
The centralised admission process on these seats began on January 25, and the DoE declared the first list of selected candidates on February 29. However, Delhi schools were shut from March 19, as a measure to stem the spread of Covid-19, and have been closed since then.
Four months since the academic session began, many parents from economically disadvantaged families said they could not complete their children’s admissions even after they were selected in the first list. Parents expressed concerns over their children being left out due to the delay in admission.
Suman Kumari, a resident of south Delhi’s Jaitpur area who stitches clothes for a living, said her five-year-old son was selected for admission in KG in a private school in the neighbourhood. “I had submitted his documents on March 11 for admission under the EWS quota in Real View Public School in Jaitpur. After a few days, the lockdown was announced and all schools were shut. We contacted the school for the follow-up but they said they won’t be able to do anything before July. I waited for three months. Now they are saying that there are issues with our documents. They are telling me this after three months. I do not know how I will get documents changed amid the pandemic. How will my son catch up with other students in class if his admission is delayed further,” she said.
Sumit Chandila, an accountant at the school, said, “The school could not start the process of verifying documents earlier, due to the lockdown. There are some issues like incorrect spellings and addresses in a few documents. We have asked the parents to get them fixed first as we cannot enrol anyone without proper documents.”
Deepak Kumar, who runs a puncture repair shop in north-east Delhi’s Karawal Nagar said his five-year-old daughter was not selected for admission in nursery under the EWS category in any private school in the first list. “We had contacted the DoE and were told that some more lists would be announced in the coming months, but we are still waiting,” he said.
Education activist Sumit Vohra, who runs an online portal on nursery admissions, said they received several complaints from parents whose children were eligible for admissions under the EWS/DG quotas. “Many parents have complained that schools are rejecting admissions on the pretext of incomplete documents. They are unable to get the certificates issued amid the pandemic. The schools should at least give them provisional admissions till they manage to get the requisite documents,” he said.
Yogesh Pratap, deputy director of education (private schools branch) of the DoE, said the education department is yet to collect data on the number of EWS/DG seats filled under the first list. “We can only release the second list of selected students after we know the number of seats filled in the first list. The schools remained closed for over three months amid the Covid-enforced lockdown, and could not access the data. We will definitely release consecutive lists and fill the seats once the schools reopen physically,” he said.
Pratap said the DoE had issued 10 lists last year to fill the EWS/DG seats, with three of them being released by this time last year. “The situation is unprecedented this year. But we will not let any seat go vacant. No school can deny admission after their children’s name appears in the list of selected candidates. We will also carry forward the vacant seats next year if required,” he said.
Ekramul Haque, founder of Mission Taaleem, an NGO, said they have written multiple times to the DoE and the office of Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia on the issue. “Three months of this academic session have already passed. How will EWS/DG students catch up with other students if their admissions get delayed for months like this? The government should release the second list of selected candidates and give admission. The students can at least start studying at homes till the schools reopen physically,” he said.
A senior advisor in Sisodia’s office said, “The admissions in entry-level classes in Delhi government’s Sarvodaya Schools are also pending due to the prevailing situation. The DoE will surely release more lists of selected EWS/DG candidates. The government is monitoring the situation.”