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New Delhi: At least 9,789 children were denied admission by various schools in the city in the first year of Right to Education. Even during the nursery admissions that began in January this year, at least 199 schools refused to provide registration forms to children who were seeking a seat under the quota for the economically weaker section (EWS). There are also reports that 173 students belonging to EWS were screened by schools, a process that is not permitted according to norms.
Amidst the doom and gloom, however, there is some good news too. Even though many schools have not implemented the Act in spirit, NGOs, parents and activists have used its provisions to force schools and civic bodies to provide education to many children.
This is evident from the fact that the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) received complaints pertaining to as many as 12,400 children after RTE was implemented in April. Prior to RTE, the figure in 2009-10 was just 1500. “RTE is a bonanza for us. We used to get such complaints even before but post-RTE, we got to test the law on the ground. The awareness among people has also increased as they have got a tool in their hands,” said Amod Kanth, chairperson, DCPCR.
Kanth claimed that of the total number of children whose cases were taken up, at least half have been provided relief so far. Also, of 9,789 children, who were denied admission, 3,219 had been managed to get a seat.
According to the data compiled by DCPCR, 143 children were reported to be stopped at the elementary level even though the RTE prohibits it. Sixty-eight children claimed to have faced corporal punishment
while 72 others suffered mental harassment in schools.
RTE also came to the rescue of 467 children aged between six and 14 years who
were either engaged in child
labour or rag-picking. “But the disappointing factor has been the Delhi government’s decision to allow a point system for nursery admissions this year. Section 13 of RT, however, says that there should either be only one criterion for admission or the draw of lots. Though I think we are on the right path,” Kanth said.
Parents of children who benefitted from the EWS couldn’t stop thanking their stars but also wished at the same time that schools would implement the RTE in the right spirit.
Archana Ghatge, mother of a three-year-old, who will be going to a private school from this month, said, “My daughter’s admission was based on a draw of lots. I would say we just got lucky. But thanks to RTE, my daughter has got an opportunity of the lifetime. Many others can benefit from it too.”
Yousuf Khan, whose son was denied admission in class VII in a Delhi government school just because he had shifted from Agra in Uttar Pradesh, made the best use of RTE. “After intervention by DCPCR, the school couldn’t deny admission to my son,” he said.