Seats in Private Schools for Disadvantaged Children, But Most Not Filled

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Representational photo


New Delhi: 

Three years ago, teenager Preeti Kumar was able to join a private school in Delhi thanks to the Right to Education (RTE) Act that made it mandatory for unaided private schools to reserve 25 per cent seats for disadvantaged children like her.

But Preeti is an exception as a new report shows that only 29 per cent children like her benefitted from the law in the last academic year. In numbers that's just 6.1 lakh students though 21 lakh students could have gotten admission.

This report by four organisations, including Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, finds that a majority of states are lagging when it comes to giving admission to socio-economically weaker students.

"Like any new policy, I think the implementation is a bit flawed but will change going forward," Founder and CEO of Central Square Foundation Ashish Dhawan, also one of the collaborators of the report, told NDTV.

"I think this 25 per cent provision is important because it recognises that private schools play a very important role. 40 per cent plus children already go to private schools," he added.

RTE aims at ensuring universal education to children between the ages of six to 14. But five years after it was implemented there are vast discrepancies in how states have performed. Less than one per cent students have benefitted in Andhra Pradesh. In Uttar Pradesh, that number is at three per cent, while Tamil Nadu has 11 per cent disadvantaged students in private schools. The best seat fill rates are in Delhi (92 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (88 per cent) and Rajasthan (69 per cent).

Professor Ashish Nanda, Director of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, said, "We should maintain quality while providing access to everybody and we ought to make sure that well-meaning are actually implemented in a way it gives wide ranging access to quality education."

Though the numbers are not encouraging, the report gives an assessment of the implementation of the right to education policy that has the potential for changing the face of education in the country.



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