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Only 15% Seats Reserved for Underprivileged Filled Under RTE


RTE.pngDelhi topped in filling 44 per cent of the seats reserved for underprivileged students under the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) while in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Mizoram the percentage of seats filled was less than one per cent. According to a new report, ""State of the Nation: RTE Section 12(1)(c)"" brought out by the RTE Resource Centre at the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Central Square Foundation, Accountability Initiative and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy only 21 per cent of the schools mandated to fill the seats actually did it.

Section 12 (1)(c) of the RTE Act mandates 25 per cent reservation for children from economically and socially disadvantages sections in private unaided non-minority schools. According to data compiled by the report in 2014-15, roughly 3.46 lakh seats were filled out of approximately 22.9 lakh seats available under Section 12 (1) (c), resulting in a fill rate of 15.12 per cent. This is a slight improvement from 3.2 lakh seats filled out of 21.8 lakh seats (14.66 per cent) in 2013-14. The top-performing State were Delhi (44.61 per cent), Rajasthan (39.26 per cent), Tamil Nadu (37.75 per cent), Chhattisgarh (32.94 per cent), and Uttarakhand (31.96 per cent).

The worst-performing States had fill-rate less than 1 per cent with Andhra Pradesh at zero per cent, Telangana (.01 per cent), Mizoram (0.21 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (0.79 per cent) and Odisha (0.97 per cent). In 2014-15, out of 2.17 lakh schools only 45,996 schools had taken at least one student under this provision. In2013-14, there were 44,158 participating schools out of total 2.06 lakh schools. Nationally, Andhra Pradesh (0 percent), Telangana (0.01percent) and Mizoram (0.17 percent) had the lowest school participation while Delhi (51.84 percent), Tamil Nadu (51.24 percent) and Rajasthan (47.88 percent) had the highest school participation rate.

Apart from discrepancy, the report also highlights other challenges that impede effective implementation of this provision like most of the States have either unclear rules or guidelines or are not implementing this provision, says Ashish Dhawan, Founder and Chairperson of Central Square Foundation, adding that awareness was still patchy, especially in rural areas. ""Once children enter the school system, provision of supporting and child tracking is almost non-existent.""

Concurring with this, Dr. Ambrish Dongre, Senior Research Fellow at Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research, and Fellow at Centre for Policy Research says, ""Of the 1466.5 crore that States require for Section (1) (c) implementation, only 250 crore was approved by the Centre. Only six States – Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha and Uttarakhand received assistance from the Centre indicating that the States need to do lot more. The report concludes by providing guidelines for enhancing implementation of RTE Section 12(1)(c) through clarity on State rules, notifications and guidelines, especially in areas such as definition of economically weaker and disadvantaged sections, age criteria and entry level class, neighbourhood criteria, items included under free education (uniform, stationery, textbooks) in addition to large scale awareness campaigns through TV, newspapers, radio should be ensured to make potential beneficiaries aware of the process of admissions.

Transition from an offline paper and pen mode of application to an online end management information system (MIS) provides for a transparent admission and reimbursement process, along with post admission processes such as tracking attendance and performance of children was needed. Streamlined and prompt reimbursements to the private schools and addition of these children into state assessments for better tracking and monitoring of performance, the report suggests."

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