Many parents, especially those who had enrolled their children under the RTE quota in private schools, are turning to government schools for admissions. The reasons for this range from difficulty in accessing online classes, the lack of infrastructure, such as smartphones or laptops, and their inability to pay private school fees.
Others claim that officials from the Department of Public Instruction are reaching out to persuade them to pull their children out of the RTE reservation quota by reportedly telling them that their children will benefit from the Vidyagama programme, where government teachers will come to their neighbourhoods to teach students. .
Parameshwarappa, a farmer in Yadgir district, said that he pulled out his son who was studying in class 3 under the RTE quota in a private school and admitted him in a government school last week. “The private school was conducting online classes but my son was unable to attend them as I do not have a spare phone to give him. So I decided to admit him in a government school as I did not want him to loiter and waste one full year. After we submitted the transfer certificate of a private school, the teachers are now teaching him under the Vidyagama programme,” he said. The shift for many students may be abrupt as they will be moving from English-medium private schools to government schools where Kannada is the medium of instruction.
Education experts and RTE activists are worried about the consequences of this and the impact on the child’s education. “Many parents are listening to officials and removing them from private schools. But once they pull out their children who are admitted under the RTE quota out of private schools, they will be unable to go back to the private school in the coming academic year,” said RTE Students and Parents’ Association chief secretary B.N. Yogananda.
According to him, families are only thinking of this academic year as they are facing financial hardship. Although the State government reimburses the school managements for tuition fees, parents each year are forced to bear overhead costs of extra-curricular activities, smart classes, and uniforms, among others.
Currently, there are around 5.37 lakh students studying under the RTE quota from LKG to class 8.
Another cause for concern is the fate of those students who were admitted under the RTE quota to private schools and have completed class 8 this year. They are left in the lurch as the reservation quota has not been extended for class 9.
An autorickshaw driver from Bengaluru whose daughter is in such a situation said that he has no choice but to consider a government school. “I will not be able to pay fees in the same private school,” he added.
A senior official of the department said that parents should not withdraw admission from the RTE quota. “Once they withdraw admissions from the RTE quota, they cannot continue to avail the reservation benefits,” he said.