Activists doubt Zilla Parishad’s ability to handle RTE Act implementation

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While the Directorate of Primary and Secondary Education has decided to hand over the responsibility of monitoring implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in the entire district to the Education Officer (EO) of Zilla Parishad, education activists are doubtful if the EO alone will be able to effectively do the job, given its last year's record.

Last year, monitoring of schools in the cantonment and private schools in Pune districts, except those in PMC areas, was under the EO but data obtained from the EO office show that several prominent schools in cantonment saw poor implementation of EWS quota. Data show that of the 2,475 seats reserved for the EWS quota in 169 private schools in cantonment areas and Pune district except PMC limits, 881 remained vacant.

An official from the Directorate of Primary Education said while there were clear instructions to the EO to deploy a team of deputy education officer and two clerks to monitor RTE implementation, no such step was taken. Activists also cite a number of prominent institutions in cantonment and tehsil headquarters which were supposed to be monitored but implementation of EWS quota was very poor.

All 29 seats under EWS quota were vacant at St George School Dehu Road. Only one seat of 13 was filled a Moledina English Primary School, all 26 seats were vacant at Ravindranath Tagore English Medium School, Pune, at Saraswati English Primary School Ghorpadi, only four of 35 seats were filled), while at Vijyam Engish Medium School, Dehu Road, all 43 were vacant.

Activists said most of the vacant seats were in popular private English medium schools, while schools where EWS admissions are shown are Marathi medium school that enroll EWS students because of lower fees. "Private English schools are popular and parents wanted to enroll their kids in these schools but the ZP Education Department did not put enough pressure on the school management. Last year, there was blatant lack of seriousness on part of the ZP EO to implement the RTE Act," said Mateen Muzawar, president of Shikshan Hakka Manch.

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