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RTE Delays Mumbai Pre-school Admissions

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Pre-primary admission to non-state board schools in Mumbai that usually start in the end of October or beginning of November has been postponed at least till December over continuing confusion on the latest amendment to the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

“There are confusing and contradicting views and we are not sure how or when to conduct our admission session. We have yet to decide the admisson dates as we are hoping for some clarity soon,” said Sudeshna Chatterjee, principal of Jamnabai Narsee School in Juhu.

In April 2012, the Supreme Court said all schools, except unaided minority ones, had to keep aside 25% seats at entry level (pre-primary or class I) for children from socially/economically backward sections under the RTE Act. Later, an amendment to the law said only madarsas and Vedic pathshalas can skip reservation. All other schools (including unaided minority schools) will have to keep aside 25% seats during admissions for next year.

The Mumbai International Schools Association (MISA) in a recent meeting decided to postpone admissions to December this year and has blamed it on the lack of clarity on the RTE reservation clause.

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“Though the government says the Act has been amended, it can’t include minority institutions in the law’s ambit as this will go against the constitutional rights given to every minority institution. However, for the time being, we have made an announcement on our school website that we will entertain admission queries only by the end of November,” said Rohan Bhat, chairperson of Children’s Academy group of schools.

Some schools will start only admission to siblings of current students and children of ex-students in November. “The final admission process will begin only in December since we are still not clear about the policy,” said Kavita Aggarwal, principal of D G Khetan School in Malad.

The Private Unaided Schools Forum is seeking legal advice as well as the opinion of member schools. “In all probability, the forum is seeking legal intervention on this new amendment. We need to put an end to the confusion that has been looming over minority schools for the past three years now,” said the principal of an ICSE school on condition of anonymity.

The education department, however, is very stern with this policy and is leaving no stones unturned to ensure that the admissions for the next academic year go as per the RTE norms. “The ruling is very clear and has come from the central government. Schools will receive an official circular within the next couple of weeks,” said Anil Kale, director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan.

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