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Schools must give 25% seats to poor from this year

Access to education, Licenses and Regulations, Reservation of seats, Right to Education

MUMBAI : The state government , in a bid to ensure implementation of the Right To Education (RTE) Act, has made it mandatory for schoolsto admit 25% students from weaker sections and disadvantaged groups from neighbouring areas at the entry level from this year . A decision to this effect was taken during a meeting presided over by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Monday. The government will initiate action against schools that do not adhere to the norm .

While a few private schools have set aside seats for these categories , a senior education department official said many others claim to have nearly completed the admission process for this year . Managements of such schools will have to prove that they had enrolled the students before the apex court’s order on April 12. “If the school management fails to prove this, it would amount to contempt of court ,” the official said . “Action will be initiated against such schools.”

The SC had ruled that all schools, with the exception of unaided minority institutions , willhavetoset aside 25%of the seats for students from “weaker sections” and “disadvantaged groups” at the entry level . The norm is applicable to IB schools and those affiliated to ICSE and CBSE boards .

Schools will have to enroll such students either at the preprimary level or Class I.The state cabinet will meet soon to define “weaker section” and “disadvantaged group”. It will also fix the individual share of each category. Debate is on on whether to include families residing below the poverty line or set another income ceiling (between Rs 40,000 and Rs 1 lakh ) in the “weaker sections” category . In case of “disadvantaged group” , the bone of contention is whether to include the creamy layer in the Scheduled Caste /Scheduled Tribe and other castes . Orphans and children of commercial sex workers are likely to be included in the “disadvantaged category”.

“There is a projection that students from some government and civic schools will switch over to private schools on implementation of the norm ,” said the CM. The state plans to use a lottery system for the admissions .

The Times of India, 15 May 2012

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