Public schools violate RTE as govt looks the other way

Bhubaneswar: Even as a majority of public schools in the State shying away from implementing the Right to Education Act (RTE Act), the Odisha government has turned a blind eye to such violations and has gone back on its promise to provide quality education to students from poorer families.

The blatant violation of the RTE Act came to the fore during the question hour in the assembly recently. Replying to a question by BJD member Bhagirathi Badjena, School and Mass Education minister Debi Prasad Mishra informed the House that only 610 students have been admitted to public schools by the concerned Block Education Officers in Cuttack, Bhawanipatna, Jusumi, Joda, Sundergarh, Dhanakuda, Kuchinda and Rairakhole in the past two years.

Barring a few Saraswati Sishu Mandirs and Arabinda Samanwita Siksha Kendras, most private public schools are not implementing the RTE Act, the minister said.

But surprisingly, the State government is yet to take any action against any of the errant schools.

“If you look at the real picture, you will find that the RTE is not being implemented in all the big public schools. The government is not taking any action, which actually makes the government responsible for such violations,” said educationist Pritish Acharya.

The minister, however, promised to make amends in the days to come.

“We are reviewing those who are not following the guidelines. I am chairing the RTE authority set up in the State. The authority has been asked to create awareness among such schools. Wherever students are being deprived of the benefits of the RTE Act, we will take necessary steps,” said Mishra.

As per the guidelines, public schools have to reserve 25% of their intake capacity for admission of poor students from the locality and provide them education free of cost. The state government will bear the cost and pay the fees to the concerned schools – both government and public schools – depending on which one is lower. Schools which have availed free and subsidized land, building and other services from the government will not receive any fees from the State government for RTE implementation.