Orphanages plan to approach govt to demand right to education

Tensions over admissions under the Right to Education (RTE) Act are finally over, but a fresh storm is brewing in orphanages regarding the admission of orphans under the Act. The 37 orphanages in the city are in talks with each other, and will approach the education ministry within a month.

As per the RTE Act, it is mandatory for all students applying under the 25 per cent quota for economically weaker sections (EWS) to produce certificates of birth, income and caste, and a BPL card none of which orphans have.

"The 25 per cent seats reserved in schools under RTE are for children of EWS parents. But what about the poor orphans who don't have any living parents? As per current rules, they are required to show proof that their parents earn very little; otherwise they are not eligible for admission. Orphans have no proof, hence they are denied even this lifeline to a better education," said Vijay Phalnikar, the founder president of Apala Ghar, an NGO which runs an orphanage in the city.

"It is almost impossible for orphans to even open a bank account," Phalnikar said. "Admission to school is a long shot. But we want the government to consider our demands and make it possible for the orphans to be eligible for admissions under RTE in the next academic session. We have had talks with the directors of all orphanages in the city, and we will approach the ministry with a formal proposal within a month," he added.

Delhi and Rajasthan have cleared admissions for orphans under RTE. Orphans in these states are required to get a certificate from the women and child development department to be eligible for admission. "The same rule should be applied in Maharashtra. There are approximately 2,000 orphans in Pune alone who will benefit," Phalnikar said.

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