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NGO spots 60 kids for RTE seats; UT fails to respond

Reservation of seats, Right to Education

Chandigarh Underprivileged children in the city are, indeed, a disadvantaged lot. For, while the Chandigarh Administration is “struggling” to find economically challenged students to fill the seats reserved under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, an NGO has identified 60 such children. Consider this: On February 15 the NGO sent the list of 60 underprivileged children to the Administration but to no avail.
While Education Secretary V K Singh maintained that he is “not supposed to personally enquire about the children”, parents of these underprivileged children are a harried lot. The UT has also been a silent supporter of the private schools who have already declared that there are not enough takers for seats reserved under the RTE Act.

Following the Administration’s directions, one of the local NGOs had identified 60 children in various colonies who are eligible for admission in the private schools. Even three weeks after receiving the details of each of these children, the UT has failed to inform the schools or depute any officials to help the children in their admissions.

Of these 60 children identified by city-based NGO Youth Technical Training Society (YTTS), 13 are from Mauli Jagran, 14 from Indra colony, 17 from Mauli village and 16 from different colonies in Sector 25. When Newsline visited the colonies, it found that many such parents are willing to send their children to the “elite” schools, as against the observations made by officials and a few other NGOs roped in by the Administration.

Momina, who resides in Mauli village and is the mother of three-year-old girl Nagina, said, “I am the only guardian in the family. I earn my livelihood by working as a maid in some households Panchkula. If the school would provide free education, why would I not send my child there?”

Mare Sheri, a resident of Mauli Jagran and mother of four-year old girl Shivani, said, “My daughter studies in a nearby school. There is only one teacher available in the school and there are no fixed timings. It would be good if she is able to go to a bigger school where she could take up education more seriously.”

The UT officials, on the other hand, appeared to be totally unaware of the details sent across. When contacted, Education Secretary V K Singh said, “I have not received feedback from any of the NGOs so far. Besides, I am not supposed to personally enquire about the children.”

“We will look into it the matter. If the children are really willing to study in the private schools, then we would definitely help them get admitted in the schools nearest to their residences,” Singh added.

A few other local NGOs, which have been looking for eligible candidates for admission, cited lack of cooperation from the private schools. Anuradha Sharma, president of city-based NGO Hamari Kaksha, said, “Our NGO is active in Kaimwala and Manimajra. Last month we had sent about 10 students from these areas to a nearby private school for admission. However, all of them were turned away by the schools with different excuses.”

“Some were told that all seats have been filled while there were some others which said that their documents (income proofs) were incorrect. Also, the schools did not appreciate it when our volunteers accompanied some of these parents,” added Sharma.

The Right to Education (RTE) Act makes it mandatory for all private schools in the city to reserve 25 per cent seats in entry level class for underprivileged children and teach them free. According to Independent Schools Association’s (ISA) records, there are no takers for over 50 per cent of the seats reserved under RTE in 73 private schools.

ExpressIndia, 09 March 2012

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