A large number of parents and activists have expressed concerns over applying for seats reserved under the Right to Education Act in schools.
The School Education Department commenced the online process to apply for schools under the RTE Act on April 22, 2019 and the last date is May 18, 2019.
Major concerns expressed by them include the difficulty in the online process, restriction to choose a school within one kilometre of the child’s residence, and inability to apply to schools coming under Central Board of Secondary Education and Indian Certificate of Secondary Education.
As per the revamped online process, applicants have to locate their address on Google Maps integrated in the website www.rte.tnschools.gov.in. Following this, the applicants are allowed to choose up to five schools that show up within one kilometre radius on the map.
K. Hakkim, an activist from People’s Awareness Trust, which has opened helplines to assist parents in the application process, said that the process was not friendly to those unfamiliar with the internet.
“Though the government has said that the parents can approach the office of Chief Educational Officer or the District Educational Officer for assistance in applying, the process could have been simpler,” he said.
Moreover, a number of applicants said that they were not able to apply online for the last two days since Google Maps tool on the website was not working.
Importantly, he highlighted that not all the schools in one kilometre radius show up on the maps. “Only a few schools that are already present on Google Maps is displayed,” he alleged. In contrast to last year, the district-wise list of schools and the number of seats available in them has not been made available online this year.
A. Chandru, Madurai district deputy general secretary, Tamil Puligal Katchi, who has petitioned Collector’s office on a few occasions regarding issues in RTE admissions, said that none of the CBSE or ICSE schools in the district had opened themselves for admissions under the RTE Act.
“The list of schools pasted in the CEO’s office does not include CBSE or ICSE schools,” he said.
Mr. Hakkim said that though an application for a child was made online to a CBSE school in Madurai because it showed up on Google Maps, the school, however, refused to accept the application. “When we called, they said that admissions were already closed,” he added.
M. Kannan from Bodi Meenakshipuram, a village near Bodinayakanur in Theni district, said that the restriction to choose a school within one kilometre radius was irrational. “I tried to apply for my relative, but there are no matriculation schools in my village. The nearby one is in Bodinayakanur, which is roughly three kilometre away,” he said.
He pointed out that the RTE admission process followed by Kendriya Vidyalaya Schools allowed students from five kilometre radius to apply in case of urban areas and eight kilometres in case of rural areas.
When contacted, a senior official from the School Education Department in Madurai said that the distance restriction was a policy decision made in Chennai. Acknowledging the issues faced in the process in the last couple of days, the official said that it was being looked into by officials in Chennai.
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