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Mumbai has 13,000 vacant RTE seats, but no place for rape survivor

The state education department has no system for filling vacant seats, and won’t let schools admit students either

mumbai Updated: May 18, 2017 10:18 IST
Puja Pednekar
Puja Pednekar
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,Right to Education,Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation
The recently-concluded admissions for 2017 left 6,000 seats vacant.(Pic for Representation)

Though around 13,000 seats in the Right to Education (RTE) quota in Classes 1 to 5 are still vacant despite the end of the admission process, the education department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will not come up with a way to fill them.

Under the RTE Act, 2009, unaided, non-minority schools are supposed to keep 25% of their seats for students from the economically and socially weaker sections. These students are taught for free from classes 1 to 8, and schools are later reimbursed by the government.

Read: Denied RTE seat, 7-year-old rape survivor from Mumbai may have to drop out of school

The quota seats at the entry-level — in KG and class 1 — are filled through a centralised online admission process conducted by the BMC but the civic body has no system to allot unfilled seats. They lie vacant throughout the year and even get carried forward to the next year, according to the state’s notification in 2013.

Although schools have been told to not admit any non-RTE student to the unfilled quota seats, it is not even allowing them to fill these seats with RTE students approaching them. Also, it will not hold another admission round for them.

What officials say
  • “If schools have not filled the RTE quota seats in Class 1, they can carry forward these seats to Class 2, but they have to mention this while registering on the RTE admissions website,” said Prakash Charrate, deputy education officer, BMC.

Activists, who have moved Bombay high court over this cause, said according to their calculations and information acquired through an RTI query, the number of unfilled quota seats stood at 7,000 in 2016. Adding to this, the recently-concluded admissions for 2017 left 6,000 seats vacant.

“The government is neither clearing the backlog nor allowing schools to admit other students to these seats,” said Sudhir Paranjape, member of the Anudanit Shiksha Bachao Samiti, a non-government organization, which filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the court last year. He added that these seats can be filled through a simple process.“The department can allow schools to admit any student, who is eligible for the quota throughout the year,” said Paranjape.

The NGO complained that they know of at least 300 students who are eligible for the quota but missed out on admissions for various reasons. “The RTE Act states that students should enjoy free education from Class 1 to 8, but in reality, the government is only applying the RTE quota to entry level,” said K Narayan, another activist.

The NGO has suggested that the government organise a centralised admission process for the unfilled seats too to help poor students benefit from the Act, but did not receive any response. “Officials told us to send an e-mail to the deputy secretary of education, but she is yet to respond,” said Narayan.

First Published: May 18, 2017 10:12 IST