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Schools say RTE quotas breed indiscipline: Survey

Reservation of seats

Times of India

11- 10-2013

AHMEDABAD: A survey on the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act-2009 says that many principals feel that the weaker sections (WS) quota is lowering the quality of schools as their seats are being given away to the “undeserving” and the “ungrateful”.

The survey, carried out by a faculty member of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) for a working paper, reveals that 43 per cent principals of the 36 schools surveyed, think that children from the weaker sections often have discipline-related issues. Thirty-one per cent felt that WS children frequently use abusive language. Schools included in the survey sample were from states across the country. All identified themselves as unaided recognized private schools.

“They behave like hooligans and often engage in stealing and using abusive language. ‘Our’ children don’t want to sit with them and our teachers come and cry in front of us because of them,” one of the principals told the researchers for the working paper titled, ‘Quotas under RTE: Leading towards an egalitarian education system?’ by IIM-A faculty Ankur Sarin and independent researcher Swati Gupta.

However, such views are not necessarily universally shared. About 25 per cent of the principals felt that poor children very often stole from classmates. However, a larger 43 per cent felt that this is rarely or never the case. Similarly, while 52 per cent were of the view that WS parents were rarely or never difficult to deal with, 33 per cent stated that this was the case very often or always. Further, 64 per cent of the principals agreed that fee-paying children also have a great deal to learn from children belonging to WS.

The study has been carried out on the resistance to one of the most controversial aspects of the RTE, which is that private schools admit at least 25 per cent of the children in class 1 or pre-school, from weaker sections and disadvantaged groups in the neighbourhood.

Moreover, they are to be provided free and compulsory education till its completion.

Asked to rate problems that they anticipate or are currently facing in integrating WS children, 46 per cent principals rated ‘financial constraints’ as a ‘major’ problem. Eighty two per cent principals said that the government should bear the financial burden of RTE quotas.

Times View

Integrating children from weaker sections of society into mainstream education is a noble cause that schools can’t shy away from. They have a bigger role to perform in society than operate as mere factories churning out students with high grades. No one expected the process of integration under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act to be smooth. There are bound to be teething troubles in a project of this scale. The authorities should try to smoothen out the rough edges.


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