Private schools defy the RTE Act
The number of private schools which are defying the RTE Act is increasing and children from poorer homes continue to be denied uniform, quality education, which is their right.
With the Right to Education Act failing to ensure schooling for children from disadvantaged sections, a group of educationists are planning an indefinite fast in Lucknow to press for the implementation of the order by Justice Sudhir Agarwal of Allahabad High Court in 2015 which directed that children of government employees must necessarily study in government schools.
While the judgement was deemed by many as harsh and impractical, Justice Agarwal believed this was the only way to improve the quality of government schools and ensure that children from poorer sections received quality education and are not discriminated against in matters of education.
According to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 it is the right of every child in India to receive free education and this is possible only in the government school system. With private schools being fewer, not all children are able to secure admission even when under section 12(1)(c) the Act provides for free education in private schools for children from disadvantaged category and weaker sections. Moreover there is dearth of good, private schools in the rural areas.
In Lucknow, several private schools have refused to do so. The District Magistrate, in 2015-2016, had ordered the Indira Nagar branch of City Montessori School to admit 31 students. The founder-manager of this school, Jagdish Gandhi, and his educationist daughter Geeta Gandhi Kingdon refused to admit the children.
“After a long-drawn battle in the High Court that CMS was forced to admit 13 of the 31 children who lived within a kilometre of the school, which was described as the definition of ‘neighbourhood’, a criterion a students had to fulfil for seeking admission. The school knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court but it refused to entertain Jagdish Gandhi the way High Court had done,” says Sandeep Pandey, educationist and a Magsaysay awardee.
The practice continued into 2016-17. The obstinacy of CMS sent a message that private schools could afford to take the admission orders lightly. “It is a shame that the administration and court didn't intervene,” adds Pandey.
The situation has remained the same in the academic year 2017-18 too as private schools continue to refuse to admit children under the RTE Act. “Dr Virendra Swaroop Public School has a number of branches in Kanpur. They are refusing admissions in Kanpur as well. In addition, Chintal Public School and Stepping Stone Public School have refused to admit children there” adds Pandey.
The activist says influential private schools are making a mockery of the RTE Act and the administration and courts are in no position to ensure compliance of the DM’s order by these schools.