Wednesday, 13 January 2010
RTI helped in the admission of children belonging to Economically Weaker Sections of society in Private Schools- In-House Report by Ritu
Approximately 397 schools in Delhi have received land from the Government at subsidised rates on the condition that in return these schools reserve seats for the children of Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in their schools. The allotment of land started in 1967 but none of the schools followed the condition of the Lease Deed. The worse part is that our Government did not take any action against this violation. This matter was highlighted when a PIL was filed in the High Court and the judgement stated that all the schools which had been given land by the government have to follow the conditions of lease deed and simultaneously ordered the Delhi Government to frame rules and guidelines for the admissions.
In 2004 the rules were framed and since then the case is in the High Court and in consecutive proceedings, very good rules were framed.
Despite good orders, however, it was not easy to take admission. The Right to Information played a great role in this admission process, because this is the only tool which could make the department move. Oral requests and written complaints did not make the authorities work, but because of using RTI the department awoke from a long sleep and the admission of poor children become possible in Public Schools.
Case Study I
Shakila, a labourer, who hails from a jhuggi cluster; works in a factory to raise her two children. Her husband lives in another state and does not provide any financial support for the upbringing of the children.
In the beginning of this year when volunteers of Pardarshita initiated mobilising people for admission under EWS quota, she also realised that inspite of her low status in society, her children can avail better quality of education. After being aware of this information, she had approached 5 schools (Dayanand Model School, Arwachin Bharti Bhawan, New Oxford Public school, Siddhartha International School, Vivekanand Public school) where she was insulted by the gatekeepers and was not allowed to enter the school for the admission forms.
She had filed a complaint against these schools with the office of Deputy Director of Education (DDE) but no action was taken for a long period of three months. But suddenly in the month of April her child got admission in three public schools (New Oxford Public school, Dayanand Model School and Vivekanand Public school) and some officials from Education Department (East District) had visited her and requested her to withdraw her complaint.
This had not only happened with Shakila, but with more than 300 parents who were seeking admissions of their wards in public schools under this quota and were denied by the school authorities. The officials who could hardly be bothered to take any action against the complaints have now come out of their air conditioned rooms and started visiting the complainants. Moreover the principals from the schools which had taken money for forms under this scheme have visited the slum and returned their money. This had become possible only because of the complaints followed by the RTI applications which insist the officials to come out from their AC rooms to the jhuggi cluster of these people. In the RTI application they have asked for:
1. the daily progress report on their complaints which they have filed with the department,
2. the enquiry report which the department was supposed to do on her complaint.
Although she did not get the reply, the government machinery moved and admission process started
Case Study II
Radha, Malti, Foolbano and Afsaan got their children admitted in a reputed school in East Delhi but the administration asked them to submit Rs.3466/- as admission fees if they were to attend classes. These perplexed women requested the principal, and they showed the order by the Education Department in which it was mandated that children from unprivileged section of society do not have to pay any registration fees, prospectus fees or tuition fees, but the school did not concede to it.
When these women were left with no hope they approached the director, the Deputy Director and an officer of the Education Department with a written complaint. They would meet these officers everyday after filing these complaints. Even after 2 months of the lodging of these complaints their children were not allowed to sit in the classes.
After all these efforts, these women enquired of the Director of Education Dept., Mr. Vijay Kumar, under the Right to Information. They asked that in response to the complaint filed by them about a school demanding Rs.3466 from unprivileged children, which officer is working upon the matter and they also demanded the investigation report. They also asked for a photocopy of the show cause notice issued to the school and their response to the Education department based on the complaint filed by them.
After filing this complaint under RTI Act, we got the response within 15 days that they have investigated that school has not only seeking money from them but has collected money from 16 other underprivileged students. On the basis of the complaint departmental action is being taken against the concerned officer of the Education Department and the school has been ordered that students be given admission within one week and the Education Department be notified about it. The next day, the school authorities themselves came to request these people to send their children to school. With that, they sent a written notice to 16 people who paid Rs.3466 to come and collect that money from the school
In the last three years more than 700 children had been admitted because of the employment of RTI.