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‘RTE covers even partially funded schools’

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NAGPUR: In a major decision taken on Monday, the local education department has ruled that schools receiving government aid even partially cannot escape the Right to Education (RTE) ambit. The RTE excludes minority schools that do not receive grants from government. Since many minority schools in the city receive grants from Std V onwards, they claimed exemption because RTE admissions have to be done at entry level only (Std I or earlier).

This decision was the result of a complaint filed by some parents against JN Tata Parsi Girls School after being refused admission under the 25% free RTE quota. Someshwar Netam, district in charge of RTE, said, “The law clearly says even if the schools receive partial funding, RTE is applicable. I have dispatched a written order to the school with this decision and have asked them to give admission to the complainant.”

Though the school is yet to receive the order, its principal Y Khisty says not much can be done at this stage. She said, “the admissions for this year have already been completed so probably any change can be implemented next year only. However, that decision rests with the school’s trustees and can be taken only after we receive letter from the department.”

While quite a few schools had refused admissions citing similar reasons, Tata Parsi happened to be the only one against whom a complaint was lodged. Netam, who is also the primary section’s education officer, said, “this decision has to be followed by every school that has a funding structure similar to Tata Parsi’s. We have some more complaints coming in about other schools but their nature will be known by next week when we call parents for a meeting. I hope the message gets out to everyone so there is no misrepresentation of the law and kids are not denied admissions.”

The second decision taken by the department was regarding the distance criterion. Netam said, “though the law says there has to be a 1km radius, this can be extended if seats under 25% quota remain vacant. To fill up these seats, school can take students from as far as 6km. The letters sent to schools have clarified all these points and once everyone receives them, we hope there would be no further problems.”

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