1 year over, RTE still a dream for four lakh Delhi kids

After a year Right to Education Act (RTE) was implemented, Delhi still has more than for lakh poor children who don't go to school. Implemented in April 1 2010, as per RTE, it is mandatory for the government to provide free and compulsory education to children in the age group of 6 to 14 years. The negative attitude of private schools and the lack of coordination among government departments has lead to a situation like today's, reported Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR). The commission received 12,400 complaints from children last year, out of which over 9,000 complaints were from children belonging to economically weaker sections. These children were denied admission by private schools on flimsy grounds. 96 complaints were from children who were denied admission under the quota for poor children (as per the RTE Act, all private schools are suppose to reserve 25% seats for economically weaker children). While 329 children could not go to school because of the extra fees demanded by school authorities, 268 poor children had to discontinue their studies because their schools hiked their fees. “Almost all the complaints we received were from children belonging to poor families and concerned private schools. So far, around 60% of the complaints have been solved and the rest are under process. However, we have our limitations and cannot take direct actions against the schools,” said Satyendra Bhardwaj, media manager of DCPCR. The commission claims to have addressed 3,219 cases out of 9,789 complaints about private schools refusing to give admission to poor children. The commission has a helpline number (011-23862686) and divides the children's complaints into 20 categories. “Lack of cooperation from various government departments is a major reason behind children staying out of school. There have been numerous cases in which the government has either delayed or denied action. However, there are other problems such as fewer schools in largely populated areas like Sangam Vihar and no identification records amongst children from below poverty line families,” added Bhardwaj. When asked about this sorry state of affairs, Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said, “Private schools are bound to enrol children from weaker sections and disadvantaged communities in their incoming class to the extent of 25% of their enrolment by simple random selection. No seats in this quota can be left vacant. We have not received any complaints so far, but will take stern action in case a school defaults.”