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Home > Student First! Dialogue Series

September 2011 Dialogue

Panel Discussion on 25% reservation under the RTE Act: are we getting it right?

Dialogue Series on Quality Education for All
25% reservation under the RTE Act: are we getting it right?

Clause 12 of RTE mandates all private schools to reserve 25% of their seats at the class of entry for children from economically weaker sections. In a bid to provide every child with free and compulsory schooling, the government proposes to compensate private schools according to per-child-expenditure incurred by the government or the fee charged by schools - whichever may be lower.

As genuine as intentions may be towards inclusive education, the devil lies in the details. Several questions remain unanswered as the first year of implementation is underway. Perfecting the process is perhaps the first step towards truly inclusive education. Real success will hinge on getting integration right. It becomes important for us to raise questions of socio-economic and educational integration while the onus of implementation lies solely with private schools.

Will the students enrolled under the 25% reservation mandate receive the quality education they deserve? Towards this, School Choice Campaign initiates the next Student First! Dialogue '25% reservation under the RTE Act: are we getting it right?'

School Choice Campaign and India Habitat Centre

invite you to an open forum discussion on
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 | 6:30 - 8:30 PM*
Casuarina Hall, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India
* 6:30 - 7:00 PM - Networking over tea
Gowri Ishwaran: Padma Shri Awardee and Founder Principal of Sanskriti School
Kiran Bhatty: National commissioner, Right to Education Act, NCPCR

Dinesh Kothari: Founder and Pro Vice-Chairman of Delhi Public School

About the School Choice Campaign
School Choice Campaign (SCC) advocates policy reform ideas to improve quality and access to education especially for the poor. STUDENT FIRST! Dialogue Series on Quality Education for All is a monthly forum for debate in collaboration with India Habitat Centre by the nation’s foremost experts on national education policies and solutions to problems of quality in the education sector.

India Habitat Centre
To confirm participation:
Email: schoolchoice@ccs.in
Tel: +91-11-26537456 / 26521882 / 26512347

Clause 12 (c) of the Right to Education Act mandates private schools to admit in Class 1, at least 25% children from the weaker sections and disadvantaged groups. These schools will be reimbursed expenditure to the extent of per-child-expenditure as calculated and incurred by the state or the fees charged from the child, whichever is less.

Towards this, the School Choice Campaign of the Centre for Civil Society hosted a dialogue on September 14 that analysed the 25% reservation as mandated in the act and what was required of the state and private schools to get this right.

The dialogue was chaired by the Associate Director of the School Choice Campaign Sujatha Muthayya with Gowri Ishwaran, Padma Shri Awardee and Founder Principal of Sanskriti School and Kiran Bhatty, the National Commissioner of the Right to Education Act, NCPCR.

Sujatha Muthayya began the dialogue with a presentation on a qualitative study conducted by the Centre for Civil Society on the implementation of the 25% reservation for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) under the Act. Conducted in North and North-east Delhi, the study showed that amongst the people interviewed, EWS parents living in low income neighborhoods were not aware of the 25% reservation and EWS parents that were aware of the RTE generally has some level of education. Amongst high budget Schools most had implemented the 25% reservation but were apprehensive about the reimbursement amount. Amongst mid and low budget schools most had not implemented the 25% reservation and mid budget schools were wary of promptness in payment. Of the 72 parents that were aware of the reservation criteria majority did not face any problem in the process of procuring admission forms and submitting the same and majority perceived the process adopted by the schools for selection of EWS was fair.

Kiran Bhatty replied that though she was heartened by the response of the study, the NCPCR continues to receive complaints against the violation of the Act. She spoke of the common school system, and saw a need to include the private sector in this system. She commented on the need for the Indian education sector to become more democratic. The Act acknowledges the failure of the education to do so, and attempts to take a step in the right direction. She considers elite schools to be a cause for worry, and deliberated on what the ‘it’ was that we need to get right in the title: 25% Reservation: Are We Getting It Right

Gowri Ishwaran spoke of the need for quality and inclusiveness in education. She placed the onus of inclusion on private schools, and commented on how private schools should provide coping mechanisms for the children who come from disadvantaged groups. Children on both ends of the spectrum – those coming from economically weaker sections of society as well as those from high-income families will have to adjust to the changes in the classroom that the 25% reservation brings. The RTE Act is essential to save and preserve the social fabric.

The floor was then opened to questions. Delegates raised concerns about the need to mandate 25% reservations on budget private schools that may not have the required resources to integrate children and if it would be possible to legislate the will of private schools to integrate children. Delegates also deliberated on whom the onus should lie to provide education: the government and private schools or should parents also be held accountable and responsible for their child’s education. Ms Bhatty responded that the RTE Act attempts to take stock of the system and rectify the shortcomings of the education system in India. Both Ms Bhatty and Ms Ishwaran acknowledged that there will be challenges in implementing the Act, however, the entire Act should not be written off at the outset.

SF Dialogue SF Dialogue
Panelist Gowri Ishwaran, Padma Shri Awardee and Founder Principal of Sanskriti School Panelist Kiran Bhatty, National Commissioner RTE (NCPCR)
SFD SF Dialogue
Panelists engage in discussion at the end of the session Audience participation during the open forum
SFD SF Dialogue
Delegates at the SFD


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